Kings forwards sink Hawks
SYDNEY (AAP) - Forwards Mark Worthington and Ben Knight overpowered Wollongong Hawks to maintain an unbeaten home record as the Sydney Kings surged to a 114-103 NBL win at the Sydney Entertainment Centre on Saturday night.
In a rugged clash between last season's NBL grand finalists, the Kings bounced back from their loss to Brisbane earlier in the week to give a sterling defensive display.
Worthington had a career and match-high 26 points and pulled down five rebounds while Knight scored 14 with eight rebounds.
CJ Bruton continued his scoring run with 18.
There was little between the teams in the opening quarter but the Kings quickly established a double-figure lead before halftime which they didn't lose.
By three quartertime the Kings had turned over the ball only three times, by far their best effort this season and finished the match with 10 turnovers compared to 18 by the Hawks.
Wollongong imports Adam Ballinger (22) and Cortez Groves (20) were always dangerous as was captain Glen Saville (16) but their support crumbled under the relentless Kings pressure.
"We regarded this game as our biggest challenge and see the Hawks and Melbourne Tigers as our main threats to the premiership," Kings coach Brian Goorjian said.
"I will be looking at a new import on Monday but can always go with an all-Australian line-up. This is the worst possible time of the year to bring someone in.
"We've been grooming the young members all season and tonight they stood up against pressure, adversity and a quality team."
The only blemish in the Kings game again came from the free throw line where they managed to convert only 17-of-32 attempts.
Wollongong trailed 64-54 at halftime but their confidence was shattered by two audacious scoring steals by David Barlow and Jason Smith to put the Kings 15 ahead late in the third quarter.
Midway through the final quarter the lead had blown out to 26 with the Kings taking shots from all parts of the court.
They outscored the Hawks in each of the first three quarters and only trailed in the final session when they relaxed with their confidence still high.
Wollongong had hoped victory would lift it from fourth to challenge third-placed Adelaide after crushing Brisbane who had defeated the Kings mid-week.
"There was not much difference at halftime and I questioned how much we wanted it and why we came up with so many loose balls," said Wollongong coach Brendan Joyce.
"We lost control of the tempo in the latter part of the third quarter and to beat the Kings and Melbourne Tigers we have to be at a high level which we failed to reach tonight."