Hawks rally in second half to remain in finals race

The Illawarra Hawks remain in the hunt for an NBL final four spot after their 110-95 defeat of the Cairns Taipans at WIN Entertainment Centre.

Illawarra trailed by three at halftime before taking control of the game with a 12-0 run to close the third quarter and answering every Taipans challenge in the fourth period on Monday.

Led by Brian Conklin's 16 points, the Hawks had a whopping seven players in double figures, claiming their 12th win of the season to draw level with Brisbane (12-13) in fifth on the ladder.

Adelaide (13-12) are one win ahead in fourth spot, while Melbourne (16-8), Perth (16-9) and Sydney (16-9) have already secured finals berths.

The Hawks take on Brisbane this weekend before finishing the regular season with home and away games against the New Zealand Breakers (10-14).

They need to win all three and bank on both Adelaide and Brisbane losing at least twice in the final rounds.

Hawks guard Cedric Jackson was a standout in Monday's crucial victory with 13 points, 10 assists and three steals, while DJ Newbill led Cairns with 20 points.

The Hawks were up 7-0 early before the Taipans pulled ahead 14-13 midway through the opening period.

Illawarra exploited a soft interior defence to push the margin back up to seven but the visitors had little trouble creating their own scoring chances and cut the Hawks' lead to 30-27 at quarter-time.

The fast pace continued in the second period and the lead frequently changed hands.

Cairns forward Rob Loe had 14 points in the first half, while American guard Melo Trimble had nine assists, as the Taipans built a 57-54 half-time lead.

Cairns connected on a blistering 9/13 three-point shots compared to Illawarra's respectable 7/15 return.

The Taipans struggled to match Illawarra's renewed intensity throughout the third period, falling behind 82-71 at three-quarter time.

The Hawks led by as many as 16 in the final period and cruised to a comfortable win.