STORY OF THE WEEK
In the summer of their discontent, the Cairns Taipans continue to spiral ever further into the mire.
Losers of 13 consecutive games, the Snakes would never have a better opportunity to kick 2019 off with some positivity, playing host to the fatigued Perth Wildcats, losers of four straight themselves and without reigning MVP Bryce Cotton.
But the Taipans, who have been horrifically stagnant all season when it comes to actually putting the ball in the basket, once again let any early offensive spark die out save for a third-quarter rally that couldn't be sustained.
The 93-78 defeat at the Cairns Convention Centre on Monday night summed up the Snakes' dismal campaign succinctly, with the hosts missing 41 of their 67 attempts while at the same time allowing the Wildcats to do as they pleased at the other end of the floor.
It was the Taipans' 14th straight defeat, a new and decidedly unwanted franchise record, and must have coach Mike Kelly despairing at his team's profligacy on offence and their complete lack of defensive intent.
The Taipans do have some offensive talent, but when imports DJ Newbill and Melo Trimble combine for just 27 total points and miss eight of their 10 attempts from beyond the arc, it's not hard to see what needs to improve.
Cairns had four more players -- Lucas Walker, Nathan Jawai, Alex Loughton, and Devon Hall -- in double digits but when your leading scorer has just 14 points, it's not so much a case of 'too many cooks' as it is a complete lack of edible food.
In stark contrast, Perth shrugged off the absence of Cotton -- who missed the game with a hamstring complaint -- to use a balanced scoring attack led by Terrico White's 22-point, five-assist, four-rebound performance.
He was ably assisted by the ever-reliable Nick Kay, who finished with 17 points, seven boards and six assists in a superb support role.
With Clint Steindl, Mitch Norton, and Jesse Wagstaff all chiming in as cover for Cotton, Perth enjoyed its biggest road win of the season and steadied what had recently been a shaky run of results.
Perth shot a sizzling 48 percent (13 for 27) from international waters for the game, shooting over a Cairns zone defence that had been relatively solid if unspectacular over recent outings.
It should be a deeply ominous sign for the rest of the league, that for all Perth's recent indifferent form, the Wildcats enter the new year in second spot on the ladder and a schedule that leans more in their favour than not.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Andrew Bogut (SYD) - Having had his influence curbed by Melbourne United, Bogut bounced back in spectacular fashion to helm the Kings to a 75-68 win over an in-form Brisbane outfit and ensured Sydney entered 2019 on top of the table. The towering centre scored 14 points on 70 percent shooting, hauled down 13 rebounds, dished out six assists, and blocked four shots in a dominant all-around display.
TEAM OF THE WEEK
G: Nathan Sobey (ADL) - Averaged 17 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 5.5 assists to help lead the 36ers to consecutive wins in Round 11, including a gutsy 103-101 road triumph over reigning champions Melbourne United on Boxing Day.
G: Terrico White (PER) - No Bryce Cotton? No problem. White stepped up in the absence of his MVP teammate against Cairns, pouring in a game-high 22 points and adding five assists and four rebounds as Perth snapped a four-game losing streak.
F: Lamar Patterson (BNE) - There aren't many better players in the league right now than Patterson, who has given the Bullets an elite presence at both ends of the floor. Powered Brisbane to a 100-74 beatdown of Illawarra on the road with 18 points, six boards, and four assists.
F: Daniel Johnson (ADL) - Much like his Adelaide cohort Sobey, DJ stepped up during the post-Christmas round, averaging 21 points and seven boards per game across the two wins over Melbourne and New Zealand. Exploded for 28 points - including 16 of 17 at the charity stripe - against the Breakers.
C: Andrew Bogut (SYD) - See above.
WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO
Round 12 has thrown up the always entertaining and intense rivalry between New Zealand and Perth, while the Taipans have two opportunities to snap their disastrous 14-game losing streak, playing host to Brisbane and league leaders Sydney.