Kevin Lisch of the Sydney Kings drives to the basket during the round-two NBL match against the Illawarra Hawks.
Kevin Lisch of the Sydney Kings drives to the basket during the round-two NBL match against the Illawarra Hawks. Matt King

Lisch not bothered by boos as Kings record first win

REIGNING NBL MVP Kevin Lisch led the Sydney Kings to a 88-84 win over his former side Illawarra last night at WIN Entertainment Centre.

Booed every time he touched the ball, Lisch had the last laugh with 20 points, seven rebounds and two steals in Sydney's first win of the 2016-17 season.

"I never take these things personally, and the fans here are great,” Lisch said. "It's a relief to get that first win and it's irrelevant where it happened. It's a great atmosphere to play in and if I was a fan I'd boo myself.”

Home-grown Sydney boy Jason Cadee poured in 17 of his 20 points in the first half, while two-time NBA champion Josh Powell tallied 14 points and six rebounds in his first game for the Kings.

The Hawks went into the game as favourites but struggled to match their arch-rivals' physicality. Compounding Illawarra's loss was a hamstring injury suffered by starting guard Mitch Norton in the opening quarter.

Known as one of the NBL's most proficient shooting teams, the Hawks were a dismal four of 23 from long range and missed 10 of 34 free throws.

American guard Marvelle Harris scored a game-high 23 points for Illawarra and Rotnei Clarke added 17.

Sydney trailed by one at quarter-time and two at half-time before Powell and Lisch took over and inspired the Kings to a 71-62 lead at three-quarter-time.

The Hawks fought back to tie the game before centre Aleks Maric and Brad Newley made clutch free throws in the closing seconds to seal victory - the first for rookie coach Andrew Gaze.

The Hawks fly south for a Sunday afternoon duel with winless Melbourne United, while the Kings back up tomorrow night for a home game against the Cairns Taipans.

"They controlled the tempo and thoroughly deserved to win that game,” Hawks coach Rob Beveridge said.

"It shows you can't take anyone lightly. Anybody can beat anybody. This isn't the national bush league, it's one of the toughest leagues going around. This is a wonderful learning experience for us.”

- NZ HERALD



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