The Go Media Otago Nuggets are still in the hunt for a berth at the Sal's NBL Final 4 after grabbing a thrilling 94-88 over the Taylor Hawke's Bay Hawks.
A week must feel like an eternity for the Nuggets following their disappointing loss to the Sky Tower Auckland Huskies just six days earlier, but they eclipsed those memories with arguably their best win of the season by clipping the Hawks.
The start of the game was delayed by 10 minutes after a blown fuse left the stadium in darkness, but once it started you could immediately tell this was going to be a tight tussle.
The opening period ended at 21-21 as both teams struggled to find their stroke in the ice-cold conditions, but soon after it was the Nuggets who caught fire quickest as they raced to a 48-36 lead at the half after a 27-15 second quarter.
Isaiah Moss showed his class to pace the home team and proved a handful for the Hawks, an important contribution given big man Sam Timmins was forced to sit with foul trouble.
The Hawks struggled for most of the second term and were clearly served with a revv-up at the half from coach Adam Forde because their immediate response in the third quarter signalled that they had been asked to up the tempo and lift their aggression at both ends of the floor.
On the back of a 36-26 quarter the Hawks were back in business, largely due to some hot shooting from Devondrick Walker, while Hyrum Harris started to find his spark despite looking less than 100 per cent healthy.
The two teams traded big blows from beyond the arc in the third period, treating the loud crowd to a collective 11 triples.
Luke Aston was another to find his range, playing a perfect cameo for the Nuggets of the bench.
The last quarter was a thriller. Everytime the Hawks tried to get their beaks in front, the Nuggets responded. Despite tieing the game up a handful of times down the stretch, the visitors never forced the home team to chase.
Isaiah Moss was brilliant, time and time again he delivered. In what has been a very good season by the American, this was his best performance yet.
Geremy McKay was another Nugget to relish the fierce contest, his constant ability to come up with the ball and scrap his way to a basket or a big rebound was inspiring.
The Nuggets held on for the win and continue to remain in the Final 4 race with games against the Sharks, Saints and Rams to come. Meanwhile the Hawks have lost their last two and head further south tomorrow to play the SIT Zero Fees Southland Sharks.
Otago Nuggets (94) defeated Hawke's Bay Hawks (88) - BOXSCORE
Nuggets: Isaiah Moss (31pts, 9rbs, 4stl, 5 treys), Geremy McKay (17pts, 6ast), Luke Aston (14pts).
Hawks: Devondrick Walker (23pts, 5 treys), Jordan Hunt (14pts), Derone Raukawa (13pts), Hyrum Harris (11pts, 10rbs, 7ast).
Stuff MVP Votes
Isaiah Moss (Nuggets) 10
Geremy McKay (Nuggets) 7
Devondrick Walker (Hawks) 7
Hyrum Harris (Hawks) 3
Sam Timmins (Nuggets) 2
Derone Raukawa (Hawks) 1
(Photo Credit: PhotosportNZ)