NEW Zealand’s Kevin Dillard-led resurgence continues after the Breakers handed Illawarra a 95-86 defeat on their home floor on Friday night.
A week after sealing a two-point win over Brisbane with a clutch buzzer-beater to, Dillard had 26 points, including 5-11 from long-range, and seven assists, though he raised the ire of the home crowd when he got right in the grill of Hawks coach Rob Beveridge midway through the third quarter.
The loss aside Beveridge was left unimpressed by the exchange, something he expressed to Breakers coach Paul Henare and Dillard post-match.
“He was talking crap, simple as that,” Beveridge said.
“In my time that’d be considered totally disrespectful. The guys got to learn some damn manners.
“Whether it’s me or any coach in the league, for him to run down the sideline and get in my face I thought it was pretty disrespectful.
“I spoke to him about it after the game and hopefully he realises that you’ve got to have some manners in this league.”
The disappointing loss continued a run of fluctuating fortunes at home for the Hawks who led by eight at the first change and by 13 early in the second quarter only for their shooting to completely desert them in the second half.
After shooting 17/36 from the field through the first two quarters, they managed just 10/33 in the second half to finish at 27/71 with just nine of 30 from the perimeter.
AJ Ogilvy led the Hawks with 16 points and seven rebounds while Rotnei Clarke contributed 14 at 5/15 shooting. Nick Kay (11) and Tim Coenraad (11) also reached in double figures but it was a forgettable night for the Hawks.
Beveridge remained at a loss to explain the inconsistency his side continues to display just three rounds out from the play-offs
“Tonight was the story of our season. You have no idea what you’re going to get from us consistently and that’s the reality of it,” Beveridge said.
“We fell in a hole in that third quarter where we simply weren’t making shots. I was really disappointed, I had to call a timeout and say ‘stop shooting. Stop shooting that damn perimeter shot and get to the free-throw line’.
“We’ve got to learn from that because if we’re going to be a play-off team and we get in holes like that we’ve got to find a way to fight through that.
“It’s the pointy end of the season and we want to make play-offs. We’ve got to have a lot more of an F-you attitude and at the moment we don’t have that and it’s something we need to go searching for.”
While Dillard was happy to play the role of villain, ageless star Kirk Penney came back to haunt his former club, finishing with 23 points at 50 per cent from three-point-range.
Big men Rob Loe (11 points) and Alex Pledger (12) also made solid contributions as the Breakers hammered the Hawks on the glass 48-39.
The win wasn’t enough to steal the series but it did keep the Breakers finals hopes alive with three rounds remaining.
It leaves the Hawks needing regroup quickly ahead of their road clash with Cairns who they haven’t come close to defeating in their previous two encounters this season.
Loe got things going for the Breakers with a three in the opening seconds but it was the visitors only points in the opening four minutes with Harris dropping four quick points in an 8-0 run.
The visitors hit back with six unanswered points of their own before nine points, including two triples, from Penney gave the Breakers the lead at the mid-point of the term.
Clarke and Coenraad made an immediate impact from the bench with Clarke hitting a triple with his first touch of the game to finish the quarter while Coenraad had six as the second unit contributed 15 points for the term.
It was part of a 12-2 run to finish the quarter, including a buzzer-beating tip-in from Michael Holyfield, as the Hawks took a 31-23 lead into the first change.
Clarke has a quick bucket to extend the margin out to double figures and when Mitch Norton hit from the perimeter the hosts had a handy 13-point buffer.
The first of three triples for the quarter from Dillard stopped the rot for the Breakers who remarkably stormed back into the clash on a 25-12 run that saw them level the scores at 48 apiece late in the term.
Pledger also contributed nine with Ogilvy and Kay hitting lay-ups to hold a slender two-point buffer at 52-50 at the main break.
Kevin White had five points early in the third but Dillard responded with five of his own with fellow import Paul Carter chiming in with his first three-pointer of the game.
The lead swelled to seven when Dillard hit his fifth three of the game and turned to rub Hawks coach Rob Beveridge’s nose in it, raising the ire of the home fans.
Coenraad hit from the perimeter to keep the Hawks in touch before Penney added eight points to close the term and give the Breakers a double-digit buffer at the final change.
Clarke tried to get his side going with an early triple to start the fourth but it proved part of a 7-3 run to the Breakers and advantage they didn’t surrender.
Carter had two threes in the term while Dillard added six to his tally as the lead swelled to 18 heading into the final stretch.
Four points to Ogilvy, a three to Oscar Forman and fast-break dunk saw the Hawks finish on a 9-0 run but it came far too late to affect the result.