THE stage was set for a fairytale NBL debut for Andrew Bogut but the misfiring Sydney Kings failed to execute down the stretch as they fell to Adelaide.
The Kings were perfectly placed leading by six points with six minutes remaining before they crashed, evoking forgettable memories of the old Violet Crumbles days.
Adelaide went on a 19-2 run in the fourth quarter to claim an 11-point win and continue their domination over Sydney.
The 36ers have now won 10 straight matches against the Kings, including 14 of their past 15 clashes.
Sydney coach Andrew Gaze was bitterly disappointed with the result, shouldering blame for the loss.
Gaze conceded he should have given star guard Jerome Randle, who finished with a game-high 28 points, more rest to freshen him up down the stretch.
“That is one of the regrets I have not finding a few more minutes for Jerome on the bench,” Gaze lamented post-match.
“In hindsight I probably played him too long and he needed a spell.
“He might have had a few more legs for us in that last quarter.
“We fell into a game style where we were relying on that brilliance and we went all in on that and it didn’t work.
“So it was a mistake and I take responsibility for that.
“I should have made some changes but I wasn’t able to get that done.
“The guys can also shoot a lot better than what they did and a lot of that is on me to help them get better looks.
“So the coach can wear a fair bit of responsibility for the game.”
Gaze was particularly concerned with Sydney’s substandard defence in the fourth quarter.
The Kings leaked 30 points as the 36ers made easy buckets to cruise to a comfortable win.
Gaze admitted his side must be better on the defensive end.
“We got exposed,” he said.
“Down the stretch, the ease in which they were able to score was a concern.
“They also got too many offensive boards.
“It also comes down to putting the ball in the hole and we had some shots that we’d normally make.
“But to give up a 30 point last quarter, it was a very significant last quarter and a bad patch of basketball that cost us dearly.”
It was supposed to be all about Andrew Bogut’s historic NBL debut but Randle stole the show for Sydney.
On a day when he declared his championship ambition, the diminutive playmaker delivered on his word with a scintillating display.
The Chicago-born guard also rallied his teammates with some choice words in the post-game huddle.
Kings forward Daniel Kickert said Randle’s message was simple.
“It was basically to just stick together,” Kickert said.
“There were a few guys hanging their heads a little bit but it’s glaring and it is one little patch that cost us the game.
“When a team puts 30 points on you in the last quarter, it smacks you in the mouth a little bit.
“But we had a game in the pre-season against Melbourne United and we were terrible.
“Then we came out the next game and were a completely different team, so I’m hoping this loss is a bit of a smack in the face that if we don’t come with our best then we have no place to act like we are going to win a game.”
Aside from Randle’s brilliance, Next Stars signing Brian Bowen Jr excelled on debut with 13 points.
Bogut fouled out in his maiden NBL appearance but he finished with six points and 14 rebounds, 10 of those coming in the first quarter alone.
Sydney will look to make amends when they take the 36ers in Adelaide on Friday night.
ADELAIDE 36ERS 94 (D Johnson 22 N Sobey 21 A Drmic 14) SYDNEY KINGS 83 (J Randle 28 D Kickert 14 B Bowen 13) at Qudos Bank Arena.