Hungry Jack's NBL
Kings Depth of Firepower Too Much for Hawks
There would be no repeat of bottom beating top on New Year's Eve this Friday night with the Sydney Kings flexing their muscles with six players scoring in double-figures in a 102-79 win against the Illawarra Hawks at WIN Entertainment Centre.
There would be no complacency from the Kings on this trip to the 'Gong after the Hawks shocked the league-leaders back on New Year's Eve.
With Sydney needing to keep winning to stay in first place to try and hold out the charging Perth Wildcats, the Kings just couldn’t afford a slip up and they had too many weapons to allow that to happen this time around.
While Jae'Sean Tate (17 points, six rebounds) and Brad Newley (13 points, five boards) did some good work in particular on the inside, it was an especially impressive long-range shooting display from Sydney.
They went 15/40 on the game with Kevin Lisch's injury replacement Deshon Taylor giving Kings management something to think about hitting 5/5 from deep on his way to a career-best 17 points and three assists.
Brazilian Next Star Didi Louzada was impressive too going 4/9 from beyond the arc for 14 points while Daniel Kickert hit 3/6 for 14 points and six rebounds.
The Kings had plenty more contributors with Casper Ware finishing with 10 points and three assists, Shaun Bruce seven points and five assists, Andrew Bogut six points and eight boards, and Xavier Cooks four points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two blocked shots.
Kings coach Will Weaver was delighted with the difference to this trip to Wollongong compared with New Year's Eve.
"I thought that we are a lot more mature than last time we showed up here even though it's only a matter of weeks," Weaver said.
"The level of focus our guys have given to improvement and individual reflection, and collective reflection, and conversations around the fact that things go in and things go in.
"We had the answers tonight when they were making shots, but it did take us the first quarter to figure out how aggressive they were defensively, and stop just ramming ourselves in there offensively recklessly.
"At which point the whole game opened up and you saw the results for stretches where the guys were taking what was in front of them, and making hard, aggressive decisions."
The Hawks got more from imports Josh Boone (11 points, five rebounds, three assists) and Darington Hobson (13 points, eight rebounds, six assists). They had combined for just 16 points, 26 rebounds and seven assists the past three games.
But at this point of the season, it's all about the youngsters for the Hawks and there were again good signs from Sunday Dech (11 points), Emmett Naar (nine), Sam Froling (five), Daniel Grida (five) and Angus Glover (four). Todd Blanchfield added another 12 points.
Hawks coach Matt Flinn couldn’t have been more impressed with the all-round display of the Kings.
"It was a little clunky at times, no question. They are class and they have so many ways they can hurt you, but for the most part I thought we did a fairly good job," Flinn said.
"I thought we limited Casper and they had six guys in double-figures so they can hurt you off the cut, out of the pick-and-roll, and their transition will kill you and they hammer you from the three-point line. The result is probably what everyone expected it to be."
It wasn’t quite a first quarter to write home about, but a pair of triples from Deshon Taylor and then makes also from outside by Casper Ware and Didi Louzada helped Sydney to the narrow 22-16 quarter-time edge.
The Hawks drew first blood in the second period starting with six straight points from Darington Hobson, an and-one play and a three-pointer. Josh Boone added four quick points and they were on top by two, but that wouldn’t last.
The Kings responded with a stunning 13-0 run and then another streak of nine straight points capped with a Louzada three and they went into half-time on top 46-34.
Brad Newley opened the second half drilling an open three and by the time Taylor knocked down his fourth from downtown on the night, the Kings were up by 17 and danger signs of a blowout were there.
Five quick Daniel Grida points and Hawks imports Hobson and Boone working well together at least kept the home team within 15 by three quarter-time.
Six straight points from Tate which led into another triple from Kickert and two more from Louzada blew Sydney's lead out to 22 and then even though some glimpses late from the Hawks youngsters Glover and Froling, the Kings cruised to the 23-point win.
The Kings back up with a monster Australia Day clash against Melbourne United at Qudos Bank Arena while the Hawks have a week until a trip to Cairns looking for a fourth win against the Taipans in #NBL20.
NBL ROUND 17
ILLAWARRA HAWKS 79 (Hobson 13, Blanchfield 12, Boone 11, Dech 11)
SYDNEY KINGS 102 (Taylor 17, Tate 17, Kickert 14, Louzada 14)