Mitchell Creek celebrates the win with teammates during the Round 13 NBL match between the South East Melbourne Phoenix and the Illawarra Hawks.
Mitchell Creek celebrates the win with teammates during the Round 13 NBL match between the South East Melbourne Phoenix and the Illawarra Hawks.

Flaws exposed in forgettable Phoenix win

ONE word best described South East Melbourne Phoenix's scratchy 112-102 win over Illawarra Hawks on Saturday night at Melbourne Arena. Forgettable.

With the win, Phoenix ­remains within striking distance of the NBL top four but coach Simon Mitchell's team has work to do.

Had it not been for the ­opposition on Saturday night, Phoenix would be waking up on Sunday with bruised egos and a fifth loss in six matches.

Illawarra has averaged 86 points this season, the Hawks had 81 at three-quarter time on Saturday night as Phoenix paid dearly for gifting the visitors' easy looks and free buckets.

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A 44-second burst from Mitch Creek to open the ­second half, thankfully, sparked Phoenix into gear.

Game-breaker Creek piled on eight points inside a minute, including two crisp threes, and finished with 25 as Phoenix put paid to the plucky Hawks, still without LaMelo Ball (foot).

John Roberson again starred for Phoenix, splashing a game-high 28 points, ­including six from 12 from ­behind the arc.

John Roberson was again the star for the Phoenix.
John Roberson was again the star for the Phoenix.

WHAT TO FIX?

If Phoenix wants to contend for the championship, at the very least qualify for the post-season, it must fix plug holes at the defensive end.

Far too often and easily on Saturday night, the Hawks ran the floor, drew fouls and converted from close range.

The Hawks pocketed 54 points from inside the paint and 19 second-chance points.

TAI-RIFFIC

What a difference it makes having Tai Wesley back fit and firing.

The Phoenix star, who missed the best part of three months with a hamstring ­injury, last night put in his best performance of the season to help the home side stay in touch with the top four.

Not only did Wesley convert his open looks on the perimeter with surgical precision, but the power forward also put his 33-year-old body on the line, running with the flight of the ball to turn a long pass to Hawks centre Josh Boone into a Phoenix score. Wesley finished with 25 points, seven rebounds and five assists.

 

BENNY HILL TIME

Mitchell aired his frustrations post-match about defensive breakdowns and silly errors.

"We should've run the Benny Hill music the last two minutes," Mitchell said.

"Neither team was composed down the stretch.

"We had some real defensive breakdowns again … good moments start of the second half, (they) got a little bake there at half time and came out with a bit of fire."

"We're the second worst defensive team in the competition right now, that's what the numbers tell us."

 

 

Watch LIVE coverage of the 2019/20 NBL Season plus up to 7 live NBA games every week with ESPN on KAYO. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >

News Corp Australia

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