It’s been a rollercoaster of a week for the New Zealand Breakers.
They got back on track with a good 97-92 win away against the Tasmania Jackjumpers on Thursday night, but lost star guard Will McDowell-White to a fractured fibula during the game. McDowell-White was the second of the team’s star players to suffer a significant injury already this year, after impressive import Zylan Cheatham fractured his foot late last month.
They then couldn’t back that win up, falling 69-65 in a forgettable encounter against the Illawarra Hawks in Auckland on Sunday and seeing the record drop to match the cellar-dwelling Hawks at 3-7.
While it looked like they had escaped their issues with starting slow behind them in their win over Tasmania, the Breakers fell back into familiar patterns as they struggled to find a basket. Their only points in their first four minutes came from a Mangok Mathiang and-one after he got hacked on a layup.
The Hawks, in their first game under interim head coach Justin Tatum, got out to an early lead and when Breakers point guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright left the game after picking up his second foul midway through the quarter, the issues expanded for the Breakers.
Without their two main ballhandlers, the Breakers were left to force shots late in the shot clock as they couldn’t find any sort of rhythm; Jackson-Cartwright returning with three minutes left in the quarter a sign that coach Mody Maor was willing to risk his point guard just to find something on offence.
It proved to be a good choice. Jackson-Cartwright was one of just three Breakers scores in the first quarter, while Illawarra were sharing the load with eight first-quarter scorers.
The Breakers were struggling, but while the Hawks had built a lead, they were by no means setting the place on fire and led 19-12 at the break.
By halftime, Jackson-Cartwright had 14 points to his name, putting the side on his back both through his scoring and playmaking. Cam Gliddon – who is usually a deep-rotation guy in Maor’s scheme – provided some good assistance with his shooting from beyond the arc when others were struggling, and by halftime things were trending up for the hosts.
Import Anthony Lamb began to find his tough early in the third quarter, and with the offence finding some life, the Breakers built a five-point lead early in the quarter. But the Hawks continued to move the ball and find good looks as the side traded the lead throughout the second half.
While they had picked things up, the Breakers were still shooting at a lower percentage than the Hawks - finishing the game shooting just 32 per cent to the Hawks’ 43 per cent - and the visitors were ultimately able to edge the result in the final minute.
NZ Breakers 65 (Parker Jackson-Cartwright 20 points, Anthony Lamb 20, Cam Gliddon 10)
Illawarra Hawks 69 (Sam Froling 16 points, Tyler Harvey 16, Gary Clark 13)
1Q: 12-19. HT: 35-36. 3Q: 51-53.
Christopher Reive joined the Herald sports team in 2017, bringing the same versatility to his coverage as he does to his sports viewing habits.2023-11-19T05:17:34Z dg43tfdfdgfd