MELBOURNE -- Physical, disciplined and dominant.
Three words that encapsulate the Sydney Kings performance on the defensive end against Melbourne United on Saturday night.
"I thought our guys guarded their ass off to start and fought through some adversity," Sydney coach, Will Weaver said post-game.
"There were some things that happened in the first period and our guys had to fight through. A lot of our work has been being ready for that and embracing that and getting through that."
A large slice of that adversity was only getting 9:47 out of Andrew Bogut due to foul trouble, with their star big man picking up his third foul at the 8:59 mark of the second quarter, keeping him on the bench until the start of the fourth period.
"Every game has its puzzles to solve and that was the puzzle we had to solve tonight," Weaver said.
Veteran big man, Daniel Kickert was monumental in Bogut's absence, registering three blocked shots and repelling countless attacks on the basket from the opposition, as Melbourne were held to just 12-for-32 shooting in the paint (37.5 percent).
After giving up a combined 205 points in losses to Perth and Cairns last weekend, the puzzle Weaver spoke about may actually have been solved during the week, with some honest conversations taking place between those losses and tonight's' dominant win.
"That's the most vocal we've been I think among ourselves as a game is ongoing and we never took a step back. Then that belief is there that if we stick to this it's going to be a long night for them. Basically, it's just trusting each other," Kickert revealed post-game.
With Bogut on the bench, Kickert denied it was simply a result of having to step up with their defensive anchor off the floor, admitting the post mortem from last weekend produced immediate results.
"It's the understanding that's how you win games, we understand that talking to each other and communicating with each other is vital and that's something we addressed this week. Having those tough conversations and holding each other accountable," he said.
With the win, Sydney move to 12-3 on the season, and it's quite possible that that a mid-season wakeup call was all they needed to get back on track, with their team defence providing the nucleus for arguably their best win of the season.
In a scary development for the league, newly acquired big man Xavier Cooks stepped in to play a key role for the Kings, appearing in 15 minutes of action as he continues to get acclimated to the Weaver's system.
"When I speak about who we are as a set of humans that are working on the same team, a lot of the excitement about adding Xavier to our team is just knowing him, knowing what he is about and how he goes about his business," Weaver said of Cooks.
While tonight was largely about the Kings' experienced roster stepping up without Bogut, Weaver made sure to praise the reigning MVP of the league before signing off on the Kings' first win in seven tries against United in Melbourne.
"He gets a lot of attention because he's outspoken and he's on social media and stuff, but he doesn't bring one iota of selfishness to the court," he said.
"He does every single thing to screen and pass and rebound and I bet when we go watch those nine minutes, we are going to see some amazing stuff that helped us win."
You can add selfless and honest to the opening sentence in this story, as they may ultimately be the most vital of those ingredients in that championship puzzle, as the Kings resumed their charge to the NBL playoffs in Melbourne.
"It's really simple, the more you talk, the more somebody listens, it makes your job easier," Kickert said.