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Marc Hinton - Stuff As usual Cedric Jackson's timing was immaculate, the classy Breakers point guard picking a great night to post that first triple-double he's been threatening for the last two seasons.
On the evening former NBA star Jonny Flynn came to town, Jackson demonstrated vividly and emphatically just who is the best point guard in this Australian NBL as he matched his career high with 28 points and added 10 rebounds, 10 assists and four steals as the Breakers thumped Flynn's Melbourne Tigers 94-64.
It all came in less that 26 minutes of court-time as the Breakers pressed all 12 players into action for what is commonly known as a laugher. A fuming Tigers coach Chris Anstey afterwards said he had been "embarrassed" by his team's performance.
It was only the second triple-double - double-figures in all three main statistical categories --since the NBL went to 40-minute games, coming on the back of Corey Williams' historic effort for Melbourne in the 2010-11 season, and it thrilled the capacity 4000-strong crowd at the NSEC.
Flynn may have the NBA cred, but 'Action' Jackson made it clear last night he's got the game that best belongs back in the Association.
Jackson's Breakers extended their Australian NBL record to 8-2 as the mercurial guard outplayed the former No 6 draft pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves as he led the Kiwi club to their fifth straight victory over the Tigers and ninth in the last 10 meetings. It was also the Breakers' 12th win in their last 13 outings at the NSEC.
Coming as it did after their horror trip to Perth last Thursday, it was also a much-needed bounce-back by the Breakers as they sparked off Jackson's energy and produced a punishing first-half defensive effort that the Tigers had no answer to.
Jackson's team-mates had predicted he would be fired up for his matchup against a player good enough to average 13.5 points a game in his rookie season with the T'wolves. And they were not wrong.
Flynn was quality, just not Jackson's quality. He ended with 15 points, three boards and three assists and did not appear the final quarter. The former Syracuse standout very much played second fiddle to the merry tune played by Jackson on the night.
It was an evening when Jackson's team-mates had to be content in support roles, but it was encouraging to see Tom Abercrombie moving better as he chimed in with 11 points, while Alex Pledger's 10 points and nine boards also represented a return to form.
Corey Webster continued his sharp play off the bench with 10 points on a night when all 12 Breakers got on the scoresheet.
"I thought the team had a good week of practice and we came out and played well, based on how we practised," said coach Andrej Lemanis afterwards.
But even he had to admit it had been a special effort by his star point guard. "Obviously he was fired up for this particular battle and I thought he went about it the right way.
"He didn't make it a one-on-one battle, but getting 10 assists shows he got his team-mates involved, his rebounding helps his team, and four steals... he went about it the right way. He only had 17 shots and ended up only playing 26 minutes. His team won by a good margin, and that's what's most important.
"I thought the team played well. There was an aggression about us, an activity about us at the defensive end that was pleasing to see. We won the rebounding battle (49-27). All those signs of effort areas were good tonight."
Lemanis very nearly made himself the most unpopular person in the building when he subbed Jackson off still an assist short of the triple-double with well over four minutes still remaining.
Once he realised his player was so close to the feat, he quickly got him back into the game so he could complete the final assist. "I wasn't going to play him in the final quarter at all... then when I found out he was only an assist short I said go out and get your assist mate and then get off" said Lemanis.
The Breakers had really sealed the deal by halftime as Jackson's offensive creativity and some superb defence had seen them streak out by as many as 22, and lead comfortably (54-37) by the major break.
When that lead grew to 29 in the third quarter, it threatened to get a little out of hand as the Tigers' frustrations grew with their deficit. Some of the fouling got almost as ugly as the visitors' shooting and the Breakers did well to keep their cool through it all.
The Breakers shot a solid 44 percent, kept their opponents to just 37 and as well as smashing them on the boards, won the point in the paint 50-26. Later Anstey lamented an effort he termed "embarrassing".
"I've never been a part of a game where you get out-rebounded by 22," he said. "It's just effort and endeavour. I'm ashamed we dished that up. We flew over to New Zealand and laid a massive turn on their floor. That's what that game was for us."
The Breakers head to Sydney next while the 2-7 Tigers return home with some heavy thinking to do.
NZ Breakers 94 (Cedric Jackson 28, Thomas Abercrombie 11, Alex Pledger 10, Corey Webster 10), Melbourne Tigers 64 (Jonny Flynn 15, Bennie Lewis 10). 1Q: 29-16; HT: 54-37; 3Q: 73-47.