The Go Media Otago Nuggets completed a brilliant two-for-two trip to Auckland as they took down the Sky Tower Huskies 73-71 at Eventfinda Stadium to go with Thursday’s win over the EnviroNZ Franklin Bulls.
They led for the majority of the game but got into a tit-for-tat, punch and counterpunch with the Huskies in the final quarter.
Star Huskies import Chris Johnson had a three-point shot on the siren to win it and it looked good before bouncing in and out much to the relief of the Nuggets.
“He’s a great player and is very capable of making that shot,” Nuggets big man Sam Timmins said after the game. “I just had to watch and hope it didn’t go.
“Two wins on a road trip is good especially for us with such a young side.”
The Huskies fell to 4-4 on the season with the loss, 24 hours after going down to the league-leading Wellington Saints.
Nuggets centre Sam Timmins continued his strong run of form in the opening quarter, serving as a constant threat in the paint, but the Huskies were able to get him into some foul trouble and he had to spend more time on the bench than the Nuggets would have liked to round out the first half.
On the flip side the Nuggets managed to draw three first half fouls out of Huskies star Johnson, and the American spent the final three minutes of the half riding the pine, while fellow big Nick Barrow, also ran himself into foul trouble.
Despite Timmins being off the floor, the Nuggets managed to have the better of the battle and took a 39-35 lead at halftime.
The Huskies tried to combat Timmins with small, mobile defenders that had a little bit of success for a period but they couldn’t capitalise at the other end as their shooters went cold.
Johnson bounced out of the final break however and nailed nine-straight points in the final quarter to put the home side back in front for the first time since well before halftime.
The two sides traded blows through a final quarter that continued to pick up in intensity until the former NBA star fired his potential game-winner that rattled off the rim and bounced out.
Otago Nuggets 73 defeated Auckland Huskies 71 - BOXSCORE
Nuggets: Sam Timmins 21pts & 8rbs, Geremy McKay 12pts & 10rbs, Isaiah Moss 14pts, 7rbs.
Huskies: Chris Johnson 22pts & 11rbs, Zach Riley 9pts & 7ass, Brooke Ruscoe-Taiaroa 11pts & 3 steals.
The defending champion Nuggets seem to enjoy traveling this season. Their Auckland trip yielded back to back wins this week to improve their road record to 3-1. They opened the season with a win in Palmerston North over the Jets and have added the Bulls and now Huskies to that list of scalps.
Can anyone in this league guard big man Sam Timmins? The son of former Super Rugby star Brendan Timmins has made huge strides forward this season and was nearly impossible to stop with soft hands and impressive footwork for man of his size. He bagged 21 points and 8 rebounds in what was a quiet night compared to his season averages.
The Huskies have a pair of kids making some waves. Dontae Russo-Nance, at 16 years old, demonstrated enough to show that he can be a star of this league for a long time to come. He produced a couple of spectacular highlight reel plays, including a first quarter spin move that was as good as anything you will see around the world. Teammate Zach Riley was a ball of energy at both ends of the court and is just 17.
How about the professionalism of Huskies import Chris Johnson? The ex-NBA player missed the game-winning shot and was frustrated by Nuggers defender Geremy McKay, who stuck to him like glue all night. “I’m good – it is all part of it,” the impressive Johnson said in a post-game television interview.
Stuff MVP Votes
Sam Timmins (Nuggets) 9
Chris Johnson (Huskies) 7
Zach Riley (Huskies) 4
Isaiah Moss (Nuggets) 4
Richie Ridger (Nuggets) 3
Nick Barrow (Huskies) 2
Chris McIntosh (Huskies) 1