Bullets still believe despite overtime heartbreak
BRISBANE Bullets coach Andrej Lemanis refuses to concede his side's NBL season despite their alarming slump continuing.
The Bullets fell to a fifth successive defeat, losing 95-84 in overtime to the Adelaide 36ers at the Brisbane Convention Centre.
Scores were locked 79-79 at the end of four quarters before the 36ers stamped their authority in the extra five minutes.
Two three-point shots in overtime from Adelaide big man Daniel Johnson proved crucial as the 36ers improved their record to 11 wins from 19 matches.
For the Bullets, it was their 13th defeat from 20 games, with their hopes of contesting the playoffs seemingly all but gone.
Not that Lemanis has given up.
"History would suggest 15 (wins) and 13 (losses) can get you into the playoffs - it does get you into playoffs," Lemanis said.
"There's always life … we just need to come out with an intent and a desire to keep getting better and trying to do the things that we want to do as a team that we believe is going to give us a chance to be successful."
Lemanis said the loss summed up Brisbane's frustrating 2017-18 campaign.
"It was the story of our season to date," he said.
"We gave ourselves chances, played well for periods of the game … in the overtime period, they made some plays and we didn't."
Johnson finished the contest with a game-high 24 points and also had 11 rebounds in a dominating performance that pleased his coach Joey Wright.
"He's shown in my opinion why he's one of the best big men in the league," Wright said.
"It'd be great if he gets noticed as that."
Johnson was well supported by teammates Nathan Sobey, who hit 18 points and also contributed five assists and five rebounds.
For the Bullets, the returning Perrin Buford finished with 19 points and seven rebounds.
Buford was sidelined for Brisbane's previous two matches with an ankle injury, with his intensity at both ends of court having been sorely missed.
"He had a good impact on the game. For someone who missed eight days of practice and hadn't been in the rhythm of the group, I thought he came in and did a nice job of finding his way back into the group," Bullets coach Lemanis said.
The Bullets shot poorly in the first quarter, with Adelaide leading 23-13 at the first break.
However, Brisbane fought their way back into the contest in the second quarter to lead 44-41 at half-time.
Majok Deng came up big for the visitors in the third quarter, shooting 10 points including a trio of three-pointers to pull his side back into the game after the Bullets led 57-50.
Deng and Buford exchanged words down the stretch and post-match as emotions ran high.
"Perrin told him Deng wasn't on the scouting report. If he wasn't that scouting reports they need to fire whoever's doing the scouting reports. Deng should have been on there," Adelaide coach Wright said.