Illawarra have signed off on a forgettable NBL campaign with an embarrassing and record-breaking 130-96 loss to the New Zealand Breakers in Wellington.
In a meaningless encounter on Thursday between two teams out of play-offs contention, the Breakers turned on an offensive razzle dazzle that the Hawks didn’t seem interested in halting in a dispirited display.
The hosts racked up the highest score in the 10-year history of 40-minute games in the NBL.
They were the first team to reach 100 points through the first three quarters, prompting followers on social media to label the contest a Valentines Day massacre.
With the margin swelling to 30 points soon after half-time, the contest descended into a procession, with both coaches fielding their bench for most of the reminder and ignoring the need for a time out.
It was a painful experience for Hawks mentor Rob Beveridge, who looked haunted as his team saw out their 2018-19 campaign in miserable fashion.
The loss leaves his team with a final 12-16 record, dropping them to seventh behind the Breakers (12-15), who finish away to Brisbane on Saturday.
Hawks forward Brian Conklin wanted to consign the closing games of their season to the dustbin of history.
“It’s a low point for us to finish on, really disappointing considering two weeks ago we were in a finals position,” he said.
The hosts sank 18 three-pointers, with five to Jarrad Weeks and four to fellow- guard Corey Webster as the pair accumulated 19 and 18 points respectively.
Both were eclipsed by centre Shawn Long who was colossal in the first half on the way to 21 points and eight rebounds before sitting out most of the last 20 minutes.
It was probably the last game in New Zealand for Long, a dominant force in the second half of the season who has openly stated his desire to return to the NBA.
Webster lauded the impact of the American and said it was disappointing he won’t show his wares in the finals.
“It’s a shame the play-offs were gone but we had to play with pride,” Webster said.
“We shot the ball well and hopefully we can continue that in Brisbane.”
Guard Daniel Grida, who normally gets limited minutes for the Hawks, top-scored with 17 points, landing four-of-six from outside the arc.