It was a case of what could have been when the Illawarra Hawks let a 13-point three-quarter time lead slip through their hands at Adelaide on Saturday.
The Hawks were not behind at any break- though it was 40-all at halftime. But still, they could not hold on and slumped to a second straight loss on the road, this time losing 89-80 to the Adelaider 36ers.
It follows on from a hard to handle 30-point pasting in Tasmania on Thursday night.
Adelaide's teenage phenom Trentyn Flowers exploded in the final quarter and steered the 36ers to the drought-breaking win at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre.
The bottom-ranked Sixers were wallowing at 0-4 entering Saturday's match before Flowers, projected to be a potential first-round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, came of age and piloted his side to victory.
He scored 23 points, including 18 in the final term during which the 36ers swamped the Hawks 35-20 to secure their maiden triumph of the season.
Import Trey Kell (25 points, nine rebounds) laid the earlier foundation which allowed Flowers to bloom late.
Sam Froling (21 points) led the charge for the Hawks, who needed more from their American guards Tyler Harvey (12 points at 33 per cent) and Justin Robinson (three points at seven per cent).
Adelaide fell in an early ditch, trailing 20-8 as they chalked up more turnovers (six) than shot attempts (five).
Kell (13 first-quarter points), who traded buckets with Illawarra's ex-NBA forward Gary Clark (12), dug them out of the hole and his three-pointer on the quarter-time bell reduced the Hawks' lead to 25-23.
Kell and Isaac Humphries continued their solid play in the second to trim the deficit to 40-39 at halftime.
Behind Froling, Illawarra gradually began drawing away from the 36ers in the shadows of three-quarter time, but their upper hand came quickly undone by the Flowers show.
The 18-year-old started the fourth term with a tip-in and a pair of threes.
He hit four from downtown for the quarter to single-handedly outscore the Hawks 18-10 over the first seven minutes, hammering home resurgent Adelaide's advantage.
On Saturday night, the Hawks sit second last on the ladder, above the 36ers, but with the worst defensive record in the 10-team comp.
The Hawks next play Melbourne United at home on Friday, October 20.
- with AAP
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