Bradford Dragons succumbed to a frustrating 111-90 home defeat on Saturday afternoon against long-time Division One rival Reading Rockets.
In a game played at a frantic pace, Dragons started strongly, but a rough second quarter left the team in a hole they were never able to climb out of.
Returning to Nottingham for the first of a three-game homestand, Coach Mellor’s team looked to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat in Essex at the first time of asking.
On two straight offensive possessions, Dragons were able to work the ball into the paint for Great Osobor to go to work. Osobor powered his way to the line on both occasions, going 3-4 from the free-throw line to give the hosts’ an 18-16 lead.
Six straight points, courtesy of an Andreas Lycoudis three and more dominant paint play from Osobor, allowed the Dragons to build a 24-18 lead with less than 20 seconds to play in the first quarter.
A promising Dragons run was cut short by Williams’ second three of the afternoon as the visitors trailed 24-21 after the opening period.
Great Osobor continued his dominant performance to open the second period, stealing the ball on the defensive end before driving for a highlight and-one slam that had the Dragons bench roaring in approval.
Dragons continued to get the offensive looks they wanted, forcing the Rockets into frequent fouls in the paint. Osobor and Fetske both got to the line by taking advantage of constant mismatches in the Rockets defense.
A pair of Fetske free throws put the Dragons up 31-30 with just over seven-and-a-half minutes to play in the first half. After a promising start to the game, the roof abruptly fell in on the hosts as the Rockets strung together a dominant run to end the half.
Reis Pinnock and Leome Francis combined for 12 of the 16 as Dragons only scores came at the free-point line.
A dominant 36-point second quarter for the Rockets came to an end with the Dragons down 57-42.
The third quarter offered similarities to last weekend against the Essex Rebels, with the Dragons fighting to cut the deficit down to single digits but never quite achieving it.
The hosts cut the deficit to 13 points, but the Rockets quickly re-established their powerful hold of the game, leading by as many as 21 in the third quarter.
The Rockets continued to hold the Dragons at arm’s length in the final period, with the damage inflicted in the second quarter too much to comeback from for Coach Mellor’s team.
Lycoudis scored seven points in the final quarter as his positive start to the season continues, and Osobor also added seven fourth quarter points to take his tally up to 27 points for the game.
Ultimately, the Dragons poor free-throw shooting, and defensive struggles, reared its head again. The Rockets firepower proved too much for the hosts to handle on this occasion.
The Final Score, Bradford Dragons 90-111 Reading Rockets. A third successive defeat in all competitions for the Dragons, who fall to 4-3 in NBL Division One.
Great Osobor top-scored for Dragons with 27 points and 6 rebounds, with Andreas Lycoudis adding 15 points (3-6 three-point shooting).
O’Showen Williams led all scorers with 30 points for the Reading Rockets.
Coach Mellor pointed to the Dragons second period struggles, he said:
“A poor second quarter put us in a hole at halftime, and overall, defensively, we were poor in transition and keeping the ball out of the paint.”
Next up for Dragons is an immediate chance to bounce back when they welcome the Loughborough Riders to Nottingham for Matchday 8 in NBL Division One on Saturday, February 13, with tip-off at 2.00pm.
Photograph by Todd Lindley.