The Wellington Saints have consolidated their lead at the top of the Sal's NBL ladder with a hard fought win over the Mike Pero Nelson Giants at the Trafalgar Centre.
The Giants got off to a flyer, racing to a 15-3 lead after just six minutes as Hunter Hale returned to his best with a quick-fire eight points, leaving the high-scoring Saints a little shell-shocked.
By quarter time the Saints had closed the game, putting their nose to the wheel to bring the margin back (16-19), but an uncharacteristic seven turnovers by one of the title favourites both highlighted an increased defensive effort by the Giants and a clumsy start by the Saints.
It was game headlined by defensive intensity, with both teams going on mini runs: the Giants led by Hale, and the Saints by the strong presence of Taane Samuel on the offensive end, and the smothering defence on the defensive end.
Tuffin made life hard for the Giants in the second half, but the home team kept pace with the ladder leaders through the third quarter, with Donte Ingram making some big time plays. It was the fourth quarter where things went pear shaped for the Giants.
Some crucial stops, and some momentum shifting buckets from Samuel and Dion Prewster saw the Saints take a lead that would never be relinquished. To compound the misery for the Giants, Donte Ingram went down with a hamstring injury late in the game.
The Saints extend their lead at the top of the ladder, while the Giants season hangs by a thread.
Giants (74) lost to Saints (86) - BOXSCORE
Giants: Hunter Hale (25pts), Donte Ingram (17pts), Ton Ingham (13pts).
Saints: Taane Samuel (25pts), Dion Prewster (20pts), Kerwin Roach (14pts), Tohi Smith-Milner (14pts).
Stuff MVP Votes
Taane Samuel (Saints) 10pts
Dion Prewster (Saints) 8pts
Hunter Hale (Giants) 6pts
Donte Ingram (Giants) 4pts
Tohi Smith-Milner (Saints) 1pt
Kerwin Roach Jr (Saints) 1pt
(Photo Credit: PhotosportNZ)