THE Hawks faithful may have a new cult figure in Jordair Jett, but the dread-locked guard's 21 points and six assists weren't enough for Illawarra to sink arch-rivals Sydney in Wollongong on Sunday.
Jett had 15 points in the first half as the Hawks led by five at halftime and finished with 21 to lead all scorers, while Tim Coenraad was the only other Hawk in double figures with 16 points and five rebounds in an 83-77 defeat.
It followed an 18-point performance from the former Townsville Croc in Friday's 99-81 loss to last season's grand finalists’ Adelaide in Tuggeranong, with Sunday's effort at home a much improved team effort a month out from season tip-off.
His was a signature that raised eyebrows, but coach Rob Beveridge is getting a fair return if preseason form is any guide.
“He played an inter-squad scrimmage last week and he had 40, he had eight threes and he gets to the rim so he does it all,” Beveridge said.
“That's three games in a row where he's been our leading scorer. Nobody expected that, nobody seems to rate Jordair except for us and his teammates.
“We love the guy, he can flat out play the d, he can do it all. We've had to shed five-six-seven kilos off him so we need to play him extra minutes.
"He might struggle a bit fitness-wise through preseason but he's going to be a hell of a player for us.”
Kings skipper Brad Newley led the way for the visitors, finishing with 17 points and four assists while Jerome Randle proved the key man down the stretch, dropping six of his 16 points in the closing minutes to seal the win.
Second unit guards Tom Wilson (11) and Kyle Adnam (10) also notched double figures while star attraction Andrew Bogut had 13 rebounds and five assists to go with seven points and three blocks.
Randle had eight points, including two triples, inside the opening four minutes and a dish for a rim-rattling slam from Bogut. Newley also had back to back buckets early as the visitors shot out to a 14-5 lead.
Jett had four straight points and sunk a triple of his own, finishing the quarter with eight points. David Andersen hit consecutive triples as part of a 12-3 run with Coenraad and Grida also chiming in with threes as the Hawks led by two at the first interval.
Emmett Naar had a nice cut to basket for the first points of the second term, while Coenraad went 1-2 from the line and Ogilvy had a neat tip-in as the Hawks dropped the first five points of the quarter to push the lead out to six.
Newley had six points in response, with Coenraad hitting his second three for a handy six-point haul for the quarter. Jett closed the term for the Hawks with seven points, including his second triple as the hosts led 47-41 at the main break.
Bogut started the third with a three and an unsportsmanlike foul on Brian Conklin. The Kings leveled up at 51 apiece on the back of a triple from Wilson, with Newley and Adnam both nailing and-ones on a 16-6 run that forced Beveridge into a timeout.
Coenraad and Grida stemmed the flow with a triple each, but Brian Bowen had two of his own as the Kings led 72-62 at the final change.
Andersen had the first points in a slow start to the fourth, with Coenraad adding neat step-back jumper and trading threes with Newley to get back within seven.
Randle sprang back to life with three straight buckets, the second on an assist from Bogut, as the lead swelled beyond double figures at 81-70.
The Hawks got back within six when Kevin White hit from the perimter but it was a close as they got with time running out at 83-77 to the Kings.