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PJC and WMW combine to flush Hawks: NBL

PARKER Jackson-Cartwright last night staked his case as the NBL's premier "Little Big Man", leading New Zealand to a huge home win over Illawarra, making tomorrow's Hawks' trip to Sydney massive and the Breakers' visit to Melbourne also critical. In Brisbane, the Bullets ended Adelaide's play-in bid.  

By inflicting the 36ers' 16th loss, Brisbane snuffed out the 36ers' last-gasp at an unlikely presence in the post-season, the pressure of the past two games breaking the Sixers.

Starting Will McDowell-White alongside Jackson-Cartwright worked a treat for Mody Maor and the Breakers. McDowell-White swished his first four 3-point attempts and PJC ran rings around multiple Hawks defenders.

No-one could stop Jackson-Cartwright, on his way to a 31-point haul on 61 percent shooting, plus 2-of-4 threes and seven assists.

His drives to the hoop were immaculate and a thing of beauty, his speed leaving Illawarra bamboozled. McDowell-White, until he injured his foot late, delivered his 16 points at 50 percent, with 4-of-6 triples and three assists.

Mantas Rubstavicius again was solid with 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting and Zylan Cheatham's 12-point, 15-rebound double did not speak to the stellar defensive job he did on Hawks superstar Gary Clark.

Clark still finished with 16 points on 7-of-16 shooting but his influence was noticeably curtailed.

The Hawks instead drew better games from Sam Froling and Justin Robinson, Biwali Bayles and William Hickey also adding positive contributions from the bench.

Illawarra missed Todd Blanchfield, though hardly as obviously as New Zealand missed Anthony Lamb, Finn Delany providing some relief.

Ahead 68-61 with a period to play, New Zealand had to weather Tyler Harvey sparking to life, nailing a pair of massive threes alternated by Froling drives which came on top of a Clark triple.

Suddenly the Hawks were ahead 74-68 and on a 13-0 rampage!  

That was Delany's time to shine, his jumper cutting it to 70-74, PJC to 72-74 and Delany again with a three restoring New Zealand's lead.

Illawarra poked it back to a four-point buffer but a Mangok Mathiang bucket off a Jackson-Cartwright feed, sandwiched between two baskets by the spinning top playmaker, with another to come, gave the Breakers an 85-80 lead.

Harvey's three kept it interesting before an Izayah Le'afa steal led to a big Cheatham punctuation mark dunk and there were only a few seconds of drama left to negotiate.

NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 88 (Jackson-Cartwright 31, McDowell-White 16, Rubstavicius 13, Cheatham 12; Cheatham 15 rebs; Jackson-Cartwright 7 assts) d ILLAWARRA HAWKS 85 (Harvey 22, Froling 16, Clark 15, Robinson 14; Froling 10 rebs; Robinson 4 assts) at Spark Arena. Crowd: 3,941.

NATHAN Sobey came out firing, scoring Brisbane's first seven points, then hitting the 3-pointer for a 12-4 lead, his first quarter of 12 points underpinning his exceptional 37-point rout of former club Adelaide.

Gambling youngster Nick Marshall on Sobey early backfired memorably, although the 36ers showed great grit to drag the deficit in, Dejan Vasiljevic (28 points on 11-of-23, 1-of-8 threes) sticking his threeball to tie it at 14-14.

Sobey with a basket, then a steal and assist to Rocco Zikarsky for a trademark slam dunk, had the crowd yelping. A couple of strong plays by Alex Starling had it back level at 20-20 before Casey Prather's vision steered Brisbane to its 22-20 lead after one.

With Isaac Humphries consistently looked off by teammates, and Aron Baynes enjoying his starting role in the absence of Tyrell Harrison, it was only a matter of time Brisbane would prevail.

Trey Kell (1-of-10, 13 points with 11-of-14 free throws) could not buy a basket, the 36ers tying this - appropriately - for the last time at 36-36 on a Kyrin Galloway three.

An Isaac White three-point play, a Mitch Norton triple and successful drives by Sobey and White gave the Bullets a 10-0 sponge and Adelaide was in the rough.

Another Galloway three pointed to hope, but three made free throws by Sobey and a 3-pointer on top - he connected on 6-of-8 dialling long distance - made it 52-39 and it was going to be all uphill for the Sixers.

Despite launching the threeball at an abysmal 14 percent (4-of-28, and Galloway hit 3-of-5), they made a couple of promising runs at it in the second half. But Brisbane was going to the playoffs and Adelaide to those tedious days of rumour and speculation about coaching and personnel changes ... and golfing handicaps. 

BRISBANE BULLETS 102 (Sobey 37, Norton 15, Baynes 10; Bannan 11 rebs; Norton 6 assts) d ADELAIDE 36ERS 84 (Vasiljevic 28, Galloway, Kell 13, Humphries 11; Kell 10 rebs; McCarron 4 assts) at Nissan Arena. Crowd: 4,987

Feb 10

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