Xavier Cooks insists he is not carrying the NBL's first-placed Sydney Kings despite the team's patchy form without him in recent weeks.
MVP candidate Cooks made his return from an ankle injury against the Cairns Taipans on Monday but when he fouled out in the final four minutes, the Kings surrendered an eight-point lead to trail for the first time since early in the second half. They lost in overtime.
In the game before that, the Kings defeated the last-placed Illawarra Hawks on the buzzer while Cooks nursed his ankle.
Sydney held on to beat the New Zealand Breakers after losing Cooks at halftime in the hit-out prior, finding themselves outscored 31-17 in a tense final quarter.
But Cooks put the Kings' hiccups down to a lack of familiarity with new combinations rather than over-reliance on their marquee man.
"We have such a talented roster, such a deep roster, and we know how to play. We've just got to figure it out," he told AAP.
"The boys have been used to playing with me and I guess I get involved in a lot of action, so when I wasn't out there, they're waiting for that next person to do it.
"But it's just one bad game and one bad stretch, we're not reading into it past that."
Coach Chase Buford put Cooks on a minutes restriction against Cairns but the 27-year-old said that was down to foul trouble rather than fears his ankle may not be up to the task of managing a full workload.
He expects to play around 30 minutes in Sunday's game with the Adelaide 36ers, who defeated the Kings with a three-point shooting masterclass in the sides' last meeting.
Since then, the Sixers have released sharpshooting import Craig Randall II following rumours of chemistry issues between the American and the rest of the team.
"They've been travelling a lot better ever since that happened," Cooks said.
"It's just Franks (import Robert Franks) from the three-point line now, so we'll play the rest of them straight up.
"They're a hot team right now and we're taking them very seriously."
Australian Associated Press
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