IT was the kind of Tyler Harvey performance that NBL fans had been waiting for all season, as the popular guard exploded to nearly get the Illawarra Hawks over the line for a massive upset against the ladder-leading Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena on Sunday afternoon.
If not for a heartbreaking loss at the hands of Shaun Bruce and the Kings, Harvey would be the match’s saviour, producing a stirring offensive performance, and getting back to his best after an disappointing patch for both him and the team.
Bruce nailed the shot to sink Harvey and the Hawks, but Illawarra’s number one was far and away the best performer on the day, finishing with a game-high points total. Harvey was the only reason why Illawarra was still in the contest until the final siren, and the Hawks will be optimistic that his confidence and output both remain high as they look to turn their fortunes around in the coming weeks.
Sydney Kings (83) def. Illawarra Hawks (82)
Tyler Harvey – 32 points (13/23 FG, 4/9 3PT), five rebounds, one assist
Harvey was the star of the show for Illawarra, a change that looks to become permanent for the rest of the season, especially given both imports in George King and Justin Robinson have both had their campaigns cut short by injury. Harvey’s 23 field goal attempts was the highest total of anyone in the Hawks by a considerable margin, with Sam Froling and William Hickey the next best with 10 each.
Inside the arc, Harvey was able to get to his spots across the top of the key, pulling up for a mid-range shot a few times, and his attempts often found the bottom of the net. He went 9/14 from two-point range, producing an array of shot attempts, whether it was cutting inside for a lay-up or finishing with a deft floater over the defence, Harvey gave the defence plenty of headaches.
From behind the arc, Harvey was also able to hurt the Kings defence. We have seen how confident he can be in the past, and he regained that belief against Sydney. He drained four triples over the course of the match, including one ridiculously gutsy shot in the final term.
On the fast break and his side trailing by five in the final term, Harvey took it upon himself to keep Illawarra in the contest, pulling up from the Bunnings Warehouse logo and rattling in a huge triple. Harvey also gave his side what appeared to be the match-winning lead when he drained a floater to put his side up by four with just over a minute to play.
Although the match ended in heartbreak for Harvey and the Hawks, his individual performance was inspirational for Illawarra. If he can get back to the vintage form we saw on Sunday, the Hawks may be able to turn things around.