Daniel Grida of the Hawks challenges the Kings’ Xavier Cooks. Picture: AAP
Daniel Grida of the Hawks challenges the Kings’ Xavier Cooks. Picture: AAP

Sydney Kings thrash Hawks and claim NBL history

THE Sydney Kings have become the first NBL team in history to lead the league from start to finish, after ending the regular season with a 98-82 rout of Illawarra.

Casper Ware paced the Kings with 19 points and three assists, Jae'Sean Tate also dropped 19 points, and Brad Newley added 17 from the bench on Friday night.

More importantly, Andrew Bogut made a successful return from a back issue and Kevin Lisch got some more minutes after his long-term lay-off.

Forward Craig Moeller was another who made a comeback from an ankle injury.

Hawks guard Sunday Dech impressed with a game-high points, but received little help on their way to finishing the season with a 10th straight defeat.

The wooden spooners have failed to win a game in 2020.

Sydney Kings star Jae'sean Tate takes on the Illawarra defence. Picture: AAP
Sydney Kings star Jae'sean Tate takes on the Illawarra defence. Picture: AAP

The Kings now wait to find out who they face in the semi-finals, with New Zealand currently fourth after their win over South-East Melbourne earlier on Friday.

However Melbourne United, the Kings' bitter rivals, can steal the final play-offs spot with a win over the Phoenix on Sunday.

A heaving crowd of 11,407 at Qudos Bank Arena watched the Kings claim their first minor premiership since 2007-08.

And the Kings were in a celebratory mood from the tip-off, beginning with Tate nailing back-to-back threes in the opening exchanges.

Sydney coach Will Weaver almost emptied out his bench by quarter time, with only a 13-point first-quarter by Dech keeping the Hawks close.

Ten Kings players were on the score sheet by half-time, which ended with Ware dropping a buzzer-beater from distance for a 14-point lead.

Illawarra tried hard to close the gap upon resumption, but any chance of a comeback ended when Dech picked up his fourth foul midway through the frame.

SYDNEY KINGS 98 (C Ware 19 J Tate 17 D Taylor 14) ILLAWARRA HAWKS 82 (S Dech 26 A Glover 15 D Grida 11) at Qudos Bank Arena.

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