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Kings sweep Hawks to reach NBL grand final

Newly crowned NBL MVP Jaylen Adams has underlined his status with a brilliant display to guide the Sydney Kings to the grand final series, courtesy of a 99-87 home win over the Illawarra Hawks.

Sydney trailed for almost all of the middle quarters, and by as many as 15 points, but Adams hit a series of big second-half shots to lead them to 2-0 semi-final series sweep.

He finished with a game-high 29 points, shooting 62 per cent from the field including four of seven long bombs.

It’s the seventh time Sydney have made the grand final series as Chase Buford became the first of 13 Kings coaches to sweep his first finals series in charge.

Sydney will play the winner of Monday’s game three decider between Melbourne United and Tasmania JackJumpers.

While Adams starred he got good support from fellow imports Jarell Martin and Ian Clark, who scored 23 points and 17 respectively — Xavier Cooks chipped in with 16.

“I can’t count on my hand the number of big threes, big plays this guy (Adams) hit, Ian hit, Jarell hit, X making plays down the stretch,” Buford said.

“Im just truly proud of the guts of our group.”

Adams hit a clutch three-pointer with about a minute to play to go to give Sydney a five-point buffer which broke the Hawks’ resistance.

“I know it was a 12 point game at the finish but it wasn’t, that shot won the game,” Hawks coach Brain Goorjian said.

“This kid is special, he’s a winner at both ends of the floor, its a different team when he’s on that floor.

“We went after him hard tonight, he had the defensive player of the year (Antonius Cleveland) on him, (he still scored) 29 tonight.”

Tyler Harvey scored 21 and Duop Reath 20 for the Hawks.

It was the first time since the first of his 22 consecutive NBL semi-finals that a Goorjian team had been swept.

“I was disappointed in game one that we didn’t get that (win) … but really proud of where went to tonight,” Goorjian said.

Goorjian said he would take a deep breath before deciding whether to continue as coach for a third season, after semi-final losses in consecutive years.

“The decision is on me not being selfish in what’s best for the organisation,” he said.

The visitors led for just 35 seconds of the opening quarter, making the first bucket and the last, with a three-pointer to Justinian Jessup giving them a 23-22 advantage.

The Hawks held onto the lead for the entire second quarter, outscoring Sydney 31-22 to take a 54-44 advantage into halftime.

Sydney then outscored the Hawks 25-13 to go ahead 69-67 at three-quarter time.

While the Hawks went on a 9-0 run to hit the front by four in the final term, Adams then took over as the Kings finished off proceedings.

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