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Hawks swoop for NBL win over Bullets

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 13/01/2017 Tim Keeble
Rotnei Clarke of the Illawarra Hawks. © AAP Image/Tony McDonough Rotnei Clarke of the Illawarra Hawks.

Forward Nick Kay delivered one of the finest performances of his fledgling career to lead the Illawarra Hawks to a 85-80 NBL defeat of the Brisbane Bullets at WIN Entertainment Centre on Friday night.

The Hawks were down by as many as 14 points before mounting a late fightback to claim their 12th victory of the season and move back into second spot on the ladder.

Kay - last season's NBL rookie of the year - tallied 16 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals in a dazzling all-round display.

American guard Rotnei Clarke finished with a team-high 20 points for Illawarra, including the go-ahead three-pointer with a minute remaining.Brisbane slipped to 9-12 for the season and face a tough battle to finish in the top four and make the playoffs.

Their injury woes also deepened, with former Boomers guard Adam Gibson hobbling to the bench late in the fourth quarter.Gibson finished with 17 points, while Daniel Kickert top-scored for Brisbane with 20.Brisbane grabbed the upper hand early, bolting to an 18-8 lead after five minutes.

The Bullets knocked down a blistering 68 per cent of their shots in the opening quarter and took a well deserved 30-23 lead into the second period.They extended the margin to 12 before Illawarra fought back and cut the deficit to four.But the Bullets continued to shoot the lights out and enjoyed a 49-37 halftime lead, punctuated by Gibson's 11 points.

Illawarra's miserable 32 per cent shooting clip was in stark contrast to the visitors' 61 per cent return.Brisbane were leading 60-50 with just over three minutes left in the third period when hulking Illawarra centre Mike Holyfield was whistled for an unsportsmanlike foul on Bullets guard Izzy Tueta.

Referees discussed the minor melee that ensued and also slapped unsportsmanlike fouls on Kickert and Hawks forward Tim Coenraad.Illawarra were down by 12 late in the third quarter before stealing the Bullets' thunder in crunch time.Brisbane have to back up for a Sunday afternoon home game against the New Zealand Breakers, while the Hawks have a week to prepare for their round 16 home clash with the Breakers

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