NBL 2014/15 Round 5: Kings confine Hawks, edge closer to top-four

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All eyes were on the returning Josh Childress, but he and his Kings teammates ensure that their performance would be the only talking point post-game. In a dominant, crushing performance, the Kings squeezed the life out of the Hawks in an 82-53 shellacking.

In front of a home crowd desperate for a respite from the seemingly endless string of losses, Wollongong was unable to deliver what ailed its fans. They managed to keep it somewhat close for a quarter at least; unfortunately producing an even passable NBL offense appears beyond this squad.

When your most productive quarter is one in which you can only muster 12 points, there should be warning signs. Two incredibly talented imports in Jahii Carson and Gary Ervin will not suffice, teams have worked out if you smother those two, and subsequently the Hawks are unable to create efficient shots. The Kings successfully enveloped the talented American duo, holding them to a combined 6-24 shooting from the floor.

Defensively, the Kings were exceptional, any time you keep an opposition under 60 points, you’re doing something right. They simply swarmed the Hawks who buckled under the intense pressure, with the Kings forcing 11 turnovers and 22 points from turnovers. Moreover, they continually pressured the Hawks into poor, contested shots resulting in Wollongong shooting 30% from the field and 17% from deep. It was ugly.

Offensively, the Kings were marvellous. Kendrick Perry led Sydney in scoring with 23 points on 9-15 shooting (2-4 from deep). Perry might have supplied the jab that wobbled the Hawks, but Childress provided the knockout punch (no, not elbow). Posting a monster double double with 18 points and 13 rebounds.

The Kings were not led by their imports alone, with big man Angus Brandt proving uncontainable for the Hawks with 15 points on 6-8 shooting, in a mere 18 minutes.

Beyond their competitive first quarter, Wollongong barely fired a shot. Now eight straight defeats, coach Gordie McLeod must be left wondering what can be done to fix his broken squad.

For the Kings, they must seek to remain grounded after this win. Sure, it was an incredibly dominant performance but it was only their second victory of the season and it came against a last place opposition.

It is a step in the right direction, but there are far more arduous steps to be taken before this is a believable championship contender.

Next week their playoff credentials may get their toughest test when they face the Adelaide 36ers. The second place 36ers now buoyed by the signing of former Utah Jazz big man Brock Motum will offer plenty more resistance than Wollongong did. Next Sunday, the true Sydney Kings should be revealed.

For the Hawks, it doesn’t get any easier as they face the toughest road test in NBL basketball. They’ll face the New Zealand Breakers next Friday in what is sure to be another test of character for this exhausted Wollongong squad.

Sydney Kings 82 (Perry 23, Childress 18, Brandt 15)

Wollongong Hawks 53 (Carson 12, Nevill 8, Demos 8)

@ WIN Entertainment Centre