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Cut! Print It! OK! NBL Rd.16 Wrapped

ILLAWARRA tonight closed the door on an NBL Round 16 full of "shock and awe", not to mention "incredible", by keeping alive its top four hopes, skinning the Taipans 110-95.

And in doing so, the Hawks brought their win-loss record up to 12-13, matching the fifth-placed Brisbane Bullets and behind fourth-placed Adelaide on 13-12.

While they cannot afford a loss in their final three regular season games, neither can Brisbane, setting up a sensational showdown between fierce coaching rivals Rob Beveridge and Andrej Lemanis next round.

Illawarra came out strongly against Cairns in a first-half where defence strongly resembled an NBA All Star Game. The Hawks led 30-27 after one, Cairns up 57-54 at halftime, the 111 combined points the most in any game the Taipans have played in the 40-minute era.

If Aaron Fearne wasn't cursing in disgust somewhere, Mike Kelly may well have been as the Hawks made sufficient occasional defensive stands to start to draw away late in the third, their 28-14 quarter setting up the victory.

Rob Loe filled in strongly for Nate Jawai (out, knee soreness) with 14 points to halftime, but only finished with 16 as Cedric Jackson had the ball on a string for Illawarra, revealing glimpses of past glories.

No less than seven Hawks scored in double digits and Jordair Jett wasn't far behind on nine.

Jackson produced a double-double with 13 points on a perfect 5-of-5 from the floor and 3-of-3 free throws, 10 assists and three steals, Illawarra shooting at 59 percent.

Melo Trimble had to work hard for his 13 points but his 11 assists were on point. DJ Newbill led Cairns with 20 points and Alex Loughton, in his final game at the Sandpit ahead of retirement, finished on 10 at 57 percent.

(Conklin 16, Jackson, Coenraad, Blanchfield 13, Ogilvy 12, White, Grida 11; Andersen, Conklin 6 rebs; Jackson 10 assts) d CAIRNS TAIPANS 95 (Newbill 20, Loe 16, Kenny, Trimble 13, Loughton 10; Walker 8 rebs; Trimble 11 assts) at The Sandpit, WIN Entertainment Centre.

Feb 4

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