The return of superstar import Josh Childress wasn't enough to earn Sydney their first road win of the season with a 24-point performance from Kirk Penney sealing a 96-90 victory for Illawarra on their home court on Wednesday night.
Childress led the Kings with 20 points and 15 boards in a solid return effort but looked underdone and out of sorts early in the contest shooting 5/17 from the field and coughing up five turnovers.
With Childress returning it was the Hawks own big guns who stood up with Penney producing 24 points and eight assists while AJ Ogilvy notched yet another double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
After a quiet start to the game Kevin Lisch also made an impact down the stretch dropping eight of his 17 points in the final term to get his side home.
The Hawks led at every change in a match that saw 15 lead changes with Marcus Thornton (18), Tom Garlepp (17), Julian Khazzouh (11) and Angus Brandt (10) all reaching double figures for the Kings.
After badly missing the jump in their last-start loss to Adelaide the Hawks shot out of the blocks on the back of triples to Oscar Forman and Penney to open up a 10-4 lead midway through the first term.
The Kings hit back through back-to back-threes from Thornton to take a 20-19 lead before Penney hit five quick points inside the final minute to re-take the lead 24-22 at the first break.
Rhys Carter hit from beyond the arc to start the second quarter while Childress added four quick points as the visitors opened up a nine-point lead at 37-28, forcing Hawks coach Rob Beveridge to call a timeout.
Penney responded after the resumption with two quick threes to take his personal tally to 16 and cut the margin back to four at 37-34.
Childress went 2/4 from the free-throw line to push the buffer back out to four before four quick points from Jarrad Weeks and a timely pair of buckets from Tony Tolovae gave the Hawks a 50-47 lead at the main break.
Lisch hit from beyond the perimeter to start the third quarter before Julian Khazzouh sunk five quick points to cut the lead back to one at 55-54.
Ogilvy produced a monster slam in response with Penney providing the assist and followed it up with another lay-up to push the lead out to 59-54.
Eight points from Garlepp kept the Kings in touch before a long-range bomb from Coenraad gave the Hawks a narrow one-point buffer heading into the final term.
Childress and Thornton both hit early threes to take a 75-72 lead early in the fourth before Forman, Kevin White and Lisch all sunk triples to seal the win.