IN only their second home game of the season, the Illawarra Hawks blew away the Brisbane Bullets 96-72 to take third place on the ladder with only three games left in season 2021.
A huge first half from American import Tyler Harvey was instrumental in driving the Hawks to their 10th win of the season. Harvey had one of the best individual performances of the season, scoring 23 points in the first half including a ridiculous seven from nine from downtown. His scoring explosion led the Hawks to build an unassailable lead, which reached up to 27 points, as the Bullets struggled to keep up with their opponents’ electric offence, eventually falling to the Hawks 96-72 at the WIN Entertainment Centre.
The game began in the most unusual fashion, with one of the backboards collapsing just prior to the game beginning following a warmup dunk by Deng Deng, causing a 30-minute delay to the start of the game. Once the match began, the Bullets started the game on a 6-0 run before the Hawks firmly took control of the matchup, displaying excellent ball movement and shooting from deep to take an eight-point lead into quarter time. This lead continued to grow during the second quarter, as Harvey seemed to make long range shots look easy. There was not much the Bullets defenders could do, as contesting shots was not working, and they went into the main break trailing by 20 points after a buzzer beater from Hawk Justin Simon and with a lot of work to do in the second half. Unfortunately for the Bullets, the second half brought more of the same as they were outscored by four for the half. The news was not all positive for the Hawks either, with first half sensation Harvey rolling an ankle and ruled out for the rest of the game. The Hawks were still able to keep their composure though, and take out the win by 24 points in a promising showing at the tail-end of the season.
Obviously the star for the Hawks was the hot-handed Harvey, but he had plenty of help from teammates, particularly the bench players. Illawarra’s bench produced 43 of their 96 points in a tremendous all around performance. Cameron Bairstow impressed with 12 points and five rebounds, constantly finishing good passes from his teammates. Deng Adel and Emmett Naar both contributed 11 points each in what proved to be vital contributions off the bench. For the Bullets, Jason Cadee led his team in scoring, dropping 17 points off the bench in a valiant performance, combining for a nice tandem with Harry Froling who also chimed in with 12 points of his own. Nathan Sobey was uncharacteristically quiet but fought his way to 11 points.
The win for the Hawks came at a crucial time with third place a nice spot to be sitting heading into their blockbuster clash with the South East Melbourne Phoenix, which could ultimately shape the finals as both teams are tied on wins for the season. For the Bullets, their scheduled match with the Phoenix has been postponed due to the lockdown imposed in the greater Brisbane area.