Hawks beat the Breakers to celebrate start of Tatum's tenure
The Illawarra Hawks have started Justin Tatum's interim coaching tenure with a gritty 69-65 NBL win over the New Zealand Breakers in Auckland.
Co-captain Sam Froling (16 points, 12 rebounds) was influential in giving the Hawks a size advantage over the smaller Breakers, whose import guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright (20 points, six assists) was the best in a beaten side.
Another Breakers import, Anthony Lamb (20 points, seven rebounds), hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 65 heading into the final minute and force a Hawks timeout.
After the resumption, Hawks forward Gary Clark scooped up the ball when Tyler Harvey missed his jump shot and dunked for a two-point lead.
Uncharacteristically wayward for much of the night, Lamb missed a three-pointer that could have put the Breakers in front in the final 19 seconds.
Instead, Clark sealed Illawarra's third win of the season when he hit two free throws in the final seven seconds.
Heading into the FIBA break, the win draws Illawarra level with the Breakers on three wins and seven losses.
All ten Hawks contributed across the four quarters, with backup point guard receiving a special mention from Coach Tatum for his defensive job on Breakers import Jackson Parker-Cartwright.
Tatum hinted during the week that Next Star AJ Johnson would become a more significant factor for the Hawks later in the season, and he delivered with a thunderous two-handed dunk on Dane Pineau in the first quarter.
The Hawks return to hit the training floor during the league's FIBA break before taking on the Bullets in Brisbane on Sunday, December 3.
HUNGRY JACKS NBL ROUND 8
NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 65 (Jackson-Cartwright 20, Lamb 20, Gliddon 10)
ILLAWARA HAWKS 69 (Froling 16, Harvey 16, Clark 13)