The Saigon Heat snapped its five-game losing skid, defeating the Kuala Lumpur Dragons 79-72 at the MABA Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The Heat picked up the much-needed victory by locking down on the defensive end, frustrating the Dragons into one of its worst shooting nights of the season. The Dragons shot only 37% from the field and made only 3 triples on a 12% clip. Compare that to the team’s 11/27 shooting in the win against San Miguel Alab Pilipinas, and it was clear as day where the big difference was in the victory and the defeat.
The Heat were led by a double-double performance from Malcolm White, as he notched 21 points and 11 rebounds to pace the Heat. Sam Thompson also returned from a one-game absence due to fever to deliver 16 points, 12 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 steals.
It was a tight contest in this low-scoring affair, as both squads traded more defensive stops than made baskets. The Heat held on to a 4 point advantage after the third quarter ended, 59-55.
Will Artino and Ting Chun Hong conspired to hit back to back baskets and tie up the game early in the 4th period before Thompson scored on an alley-oop to trigger a 6-0 run. The Dragons would make their final stand, as they got to within one point via a strong drive from Amir Bell that led to a basket plus the foul.
However, the Dragons took over down the stretch. A big run that began with a booming triple from Chris Dierker resulted in an 11-0 run, which brought the lead up to 12, entering the last two minutes of the game. And though Kuala Lumpur attempted to rally back down the stretch, free throws from Thompson helped cement the victory for the Dragons on the road.
Tyshawn Taylor was also a crucial factor in Saigon’s win, with 18 points and 10 assists. Chris Dierker also had a monster scoring performance off the bench, with 15 points on a 3 of 6 clip from beyond the arc to help Saigon’s cause.
Will Artino paced the Dragons with 24 points, 15 rebounds and 2 blocks, followed by a bounce-back performance from Amir Bell with 21 points on 8 of 16 shooting. He also chipped in 5 rebounds and 6 assists.
Cade Davis, on the other hand, struggled from the field with only 8 points on 4 of 16 shooting.
The Heat grabbed its third win of the season against nine losses. They remain in 10th place, only a game behind Hong Kong Eastern. They battle San Miguel Alab Pilipinas on Sunday, February 9 on the road at the Santa Rosa Multi-Purpose Sports Complex.
The Dragons fall to 5-6, and in 7th place in the standings. Their next assignment is on February 12, as they continue their homestand and take on the Taipei Fubon Braves.