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GAME REPORT

Three-point happy Hawks overrun Taipans

The Illawarra Hawks jacked up the most three-pointers in a 40-minute NBL game but it was the defensive effort to shut down the Cairns Taipans after half-time that secured them the important 93-81 victory.

Despite Justinian Jessup's 18 points in the first half, the Hawks found themselves behind against the Taipans at half-time having conceded 53 points to the bottom placed team at WIN Entertainment Centre on Sunday.

Knowing they needed to win to remain in fourth position as they continue to fight over a playoff spot with the Sydney Kings and Brisbane Bullets, the Hawks came out and delivered a dominant third quarter.

They held Cairns to just the six points while putting up 21 themselves. Illawarra turned that five-point deficit at the half into a 12-point victory to improve to a 17-15 record to stay fourth and to hand the Taipans a seventh consecutive defeat in the process.

The Hawks did set a new record in a 40-minute NBL game shooting 45 three-pointers. They only hit 12 at 26 per cent, but the key was they pulled in 20 offensive rebounds for an eventual 20 second chance points.

Captain AJ Ogilvy pulled in eight of those on his own to record a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds in his 200th NBL appearance.

Justinian Jessup finished with 24 points for the Hawks while going 4/13 from deep and contributing four rebounds, three assists, three steals and two blocked shots while Tyler Harvey went 4/12 from deep on his way to 22 points, nine assists and seven boards.

Sam Froling delivered another 15 points, seven rebounds and four blocks, and Deng Deng 13 points, five boards, four assists and three blocks.

Hawks coach Brian Goorjian was proud that it was the defensive pick up in the third quarter that set up the important win.

"I knew coming into this game that it was going to be nasty and really important to us. They've got nothing to lose and are playing free-flowing, Jawai is playing well and they've got shooters," Goorjian said.

"The first half issue was really mine in the fact we were doubling on those on-balls to try and keep Scott out of the lane. We gave up catch and shoot, feet set threes because the rotations were a little slow. 

"But in the second half we went with a show and a recover, and didn’t rotate and took the three ball away. The reason why we are here today where we are is because we're defending, and when we defend we've got a chance. That also opens the offensive end of the floor for us."

Take out the third quarter and the giving up of 20 offensive rebounds, and the Taipans did a lot right to give themselves a chance of snapping their losing slide.

Scott Machado was back to his best running the Taipans with 17 points and nine assists with Majok Deng putting up 16 points, Mojave King 12 and Mirko Djeric 11 to go with four assists and hitting 3/6 from three-point range. 

Taipans coach Mike Kelly is never going to be happy accepting losses, and was frustrated by that third quarter and the offensive rebounds given up all night.

"We came out and didn’t execute like we needed to in that third. I think their defensive pressure was good and we didn’t answer that with good execution, and turned the ball over and didn't get great shots," Kelly said.

"You can't win giving them their shots back. They've got too many good shooters and scorers, and we gave them multiple chances. 

"They crashed the boards hard and some were long rebounds where we flew by the shooter and then hung out at the half court line hoping someone would grab it, and some were great effort plays by them. I think AJ had eight of them himself and you just can't do that."

Justinian Jessup again started well with an early three for the Hawks but it was the Taipans off to the hot start with three balls from Mojave King and Scott Machado helping them to an early edge, and they were still up 23-21 thanks to four lively points before the buzzer from Venky Jois.

Jois made another couple of buckets to start the second quarter with Jarrod Kenny hitting a three ball and all of a sudden the Snakes were up 32-23. Despite 18 points in the half for the Hawks from Justinian Jessup, the Taipans had all the answers to still lead 53-48 by half-time.

To say the game took a dramatic turn in the third quarter would be a great understatement. The Hawks came out and hit the first six points causing Mike Kelly into an early frustrated timeout.

It worked briefly with another King three-pointer but Illawarra scored the next 10 points including six straight from Jessup to suddenly lead by eight, and then by 12 at three quarter-time on the back of a 23-point to six period.

The Snakes fired back to start the fourth quarter going on a 13-5 run including a pair of three balls from Djeric and suddenly it was just a four-point ball game once again.

Tyler Harvey knocked down a three and then he hit another soon after to put the margin back out to double-figures again and from there the Hawks cruised to the important 12-point win to keep them in fourth spot.

The Taipans are now back home for their last game at the Cairns Pop-Up Arena against Brisbane on Wednesday while the Hawks head across to take on the New Zealand Breakers in Pukekohe on Friday.

HUNGRY JACK'S NBL ROUND 19

ILLAWARRA HAWKS 93 (Jessup 24, Harvey 22, Froling 15)

CAIRNS TAIPANS 81 (Machado 17, Deng 16, King 12) 

BOX SCORE 

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