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R2 Report: Hawks fly over Sydney Kings

The Illawarra Hawks completed a perfect week with a 100-86 defeat of their NSW rivals, the Sydney Kings on Saturday night at Qantas Credit Union Arena. Illawarra backed up strongly from Wednesday’s 21-point home win over titleholders New Zealand, improving their record to 2-2 after two rounds of the 2015/16 NBL season. The Kings were unable to make amends for Thursday’s narrow home loss to Townsville and dropped to 1-2 for the season. Sharpshooting Hawks forward Oscar Forman posted a game-high 24 points and 10 rebounds, sinking a blistering 6-of-7 three-pointers. Tim Coenraad added 18, Kirk Penney had 16 and AJ Ogilvy finished with 15. Centre Julian Khazzouh led the Kings with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Marcus Thornton had 19. ‘’These guys are showing tremendous character,’’ Illawarra head coach Rob Beveridge said. ‘’Ossie’s one of the greatest shooters you’ll ever see and he put on a show today.’’ Both teams came out with aggressive mindsets at the offensive end and the scoreboard ticked over at a rapid pace. The Hawks were up 16-6 before Thornton heated up with back-to-back threes. Sydney were getting good service from Khazzouh inside and patiently carved out a 23-20 lead six minutes into the opening period. Khazzouh drained a turnaround shot on the buzzer to extend Sydney’s lead to 30-27 at quarter-time. Thornton paced his side with 10 points and Khazzouh had nine, while Tim Coenraad and Forman combined for 13. Sydney pulled ahead by eight but the visitors gradually chipped away and got themselves back in front by five with four minutes left in the half. Neither side was prepared to budge and the lead changed hands six times in the closing two minutes. Kings swingman Dion Prewster made good on a buzzer-beater after a clever pass by Tom Garlepp, putting the home team ahead 53-52 at half-time. Khazzouh was up to 15 points, Thornton had 11 and Jason Cadee added 10. Coenraad topped Illawarra with 14 points, while Ogilvy was prominent with 10 points, four rebounds, three assists and two blocks. Consecutive threes by Kevin White and Forman put the Hawks up by one, but the Kings replied with an 8-0 run. The lead swapped hands yet again when Forman nailed a three. The 14-year veteran hit his fifth three of the night moments later before Jarrad Weeks hit from long range to push the margin out to eight. The Kings were under pressure when they fell behind by 11, but they fought back to be trailing 77-71 at three-quarter time. Forman had 17 points, while Khazzouh boosted his total to 19. Sydney tried to play catch-up from the three-point line in the final period but the shots wouldn’t fall, allowing Illawarra’s lead swelled to 15 with four minutes remaining. ‘’We struggled against the zone,’’ Sydney coach Damian Cotter said. ‘’We’re going through some growing pains.’’ The Illawarra Hawks have a week’s break before facing the Perth Wildcats next Sunday at WIN Entertainment Centre. The Sydney Kings have a date with the New Zealand Breakers next Wednesday in Auckland. Illawarra Hawks 100 (Forman 24, Coenraad 18, Penney 16) Sydney Kings 86 (Khazzouh 21, Thornton 19, Cadee 16) BOX SCORE
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