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R11 Report: Khazzouh goes down in Hawks win

Sydney Kings centre Julian Khazzouh is the latest casualty for a club crippled by misfortune, after leaving the game and not returning in Illawarra’s 102-83 runaway win on Friday. Khazzouh has reportedly torn the quadriceps (as reported by Fox Sports) in his right leg after an innocuous incident midway through the second quarter. Meanwhile, the Hawks took Sydney’s best punch before sending their NSW rivals to the canvas for the third time this season; averaging a winning margin of 13 points. The Hawks – winning five of their past six games – were down by 10 in the first quarter before applying aggressive defence to take control of the final three periods, spurred on by the vocal WIN Entertainment Centre crowd. Illawarra’s Big Three of Kevin Lisch (23 points), Kirk Penney (21) and AJ Ogilvy (17) starred, while Marcus Thornton, Tom Garlepp and Rhys Carter had 15 apiece for Sydney. The Hawks received a big lift from the bench, with former Kings forward Cody Ellis and Tim Coenraad combining for 21 points. Picking up where they left off against Melbourne, Sydney stunned the Hawks with nine unanswered points to start the game. The inside presence of twin towers Khazzouh and Angus Brandt posed problems for Illawarra in the paint, while a fired up Thornton blazed away from the perimeter to push Sydney’s lead out to 23-13. But the Hawks fought back on the strength of their bench to trail 31-29 at the end of high-scoring first quarter. Sydney connected on 60 per cent of their field goal attempts, including six of nine from three-point territory. Illawarra started forcing the Kings into bad shots (7/17 for the quarter) and things worsened for the visitors when Khazzouh was assisted from the court. Sydney hung tough and cut the deficit to a single point before another Hawks surge in the final two minutes pushed the lead up to 58-51 at half time. Illawarra quickly stretched the margin to double figures in the third period, taking an 83-68 lead into the final quarter and keeping the Kings at arm’s length down the stretch. “You look up and we’ve scored 102 points, but that game was a grind,” Illawarra coach Rob Beveridge said post-game. “They came out on fire and shot the lights out, but we stuck to it and the guys were really determined to get it done. “It’s pretty naive to say we don’t play defence because we’re actually becoming a pretty good defensive team. To all our critics out there, keep bringing it on, because it motivates and inspires us.” Sydney remains in last spot and have eight days to prepare for a December 27 home clash with the Breakers – the Kings’ first at Sydney Olympic Park after the club ended 28 years of residency at Qantas Credit Union Arena last week. “Seeing Jules laying there on the training table at halftime deflated our guys,” Kings coach Joe Connelly said. “We don’t know the extent yet but it looks like a pretty bad injury. “Nothing changes for us. We have to keep fighting and stepping up and being able to look ourselves in the mirror.”   ILLAWARRA HAWKS 102 (Lisch 23, Penney 21, Ogilvy 17) SYDNEY KINGS 83 (Carter 15, Garlepp 15, Thornton 15) BOX SCORE
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