The Hawks racked up consecutive victories under caretaker coach Ben Hill in Napier tonight.
The Taylor Corporation-sponsored Hawks beat Mike Pero Nelson Giants 103-80 to scramble back to the sixth rung of the seven-team National Basketball League at the Pettigrew-Green Arena, Taradale.
It was at times a testy affair but the writing was on the wall for Nelson who also have three wins this season but have marginally inferior statistics after tonight's loss.
It wasn't pretty but for the most part the Hawks showed the right intent required on a national platform although the game has to be put in perspective because it was a bottom-of-the-table tussle.
Notably five Hawks got into double-digit scoring figures - swingman Tony Tolovae (21 points), co-skipper Everard Bartlett (19), small forward Joshua Fox (16), forward Anamata Haku (12) and US import centre Amir Williams (11).
While co-skipper and little general Jarrod Kenny only managed seven points it is easy to miss his 13 assists and four rebounds.
"Man, it is a much-need win. We put in a hell of an effort with the boys winning their confidence back," a limping Bartlett said tonight.
"A few things happened last week and new coaching staff came in and got us to challenge each other," said the shooting guard, referring to the sudden resignation of coach Kirstin Daly-Taylor that saw the Hawks franchise board appoint Hill as caretaker.
Bartlett said the back-to-back victories over James Blond Super City Waitakere Rangers on the road two Fridays ago he felt they were on the path to making the Final Four.
He said the defensive effort also was evident as Nelson tripped on the shot clock four times during the game.
"We had five players [at any time] out there on the same page so that's really good."
The multi-contributors, Bartlett said, was an endorsement of his and Kenny's faith in the collective to be able to make a difference when they find cohesiveness.
"Now the crowd can see what Amir or T [Tolovae] can do so when we all can do what we can, like even passing the ball, that's what you get."
Building that chemistry in a shortish season required rapid reactions because the Hawks pre-season build up was drawn out due to late arrivals.
"What you're seeing now is our time together and what you're then seeing on the court."
Asked what had changed dramatically from Daly-Taylor to Hill in space of two games, he said attitude.
"Ben Hill challenged us individually and held us accountable in training and that is speaking volumes."
The homeboys started a little sluggishly in the first quarter with the Giants taking an early surge. They clawed their way back into the spell, slowly but surely, despite the visitors edging them out, 23-22, when the buzzer signalled time.
What stuck out like a sore thumb was the persistent verbal stoush between Williams and Giants' latest signing and counterpart, Morgan Grim, also an American import.
A few passages of play later the stakes were raised to a push, shove and elbow in the key but Hill elected to bench his man perhaps sensibly to keep him out of foul trouble.
But it was Hawks Mark II which came out in the second quarter.
They hustled, rebounded and put up formidable screens (and Williams and Grim carried on) with a don't-argue 33-16 knockout blow to go into the locker room 55-39 up.
The Hawks were guilty of taking their foot off the oppositions throat when Hill made a wholesale change from the bench but they didn't need to stress as Nelson's Finn Delany was doing a pretty good job in that department with four minutes to go before halftime.
The guard's frustration summed it up for the visitors when he chucked the ball at referee Matthew Bathurst after he was pinged for a foul but also had the presence of mind to apologise profusely as the PG Arena faithful booed in chorus.
The third and fourth spells, 25-21 and 23-20, were symptomatic of a team who were probably aware that losing from the halftime score would have been tantamount to choking big time.
Bartlett beating the shot clock, with three seconds remaining, and taking a hit to the floor from Tom Ingham but still finding love with the rim from downtown reflected a sense of commitment not seen at PG Arena for sometime.
For Nelson, Delany scored a match-high equal 21 points but had 34 minutes on the floor compared with Tolovae's 24.
Skipper Sam Dempster was next on 14 and just missed out on a double-double with nine off the board.
But what made a louder bang on the Giants' score sheet was how the Hawks kept former Hawk shooting guard Dion Prewster to just 13 points.
Wily campaigner and former Tall Black Phill Jones, also down as assistant coach, made a cameo eight-minute cameo appearance, somewhat tentatively, but hadn't lost his shooting prowess.
Jones' appearance showed the Giants, despite sacking coach Alan McAughtry, of Australia, still have issues to resolve.
Grim put the exchanges with Williams down to something that happened quite often on the court.
"It's important for us to be quite physical and bring a lot more energy," he said, adding that deficiency was more visible on defence.
Grim said that pressure deserted them after a robust start but agreed their problems weren't too different to the Hawks.
"We've changed coaches and players and we've had 10 days on the road with five games so it's pretty tough although we've come out of it with two wins."
While it didn't happen tonight, Grim felt they were on the right track.
"Foul trouble also kept Dion out of the game a little bit because there were some pretty questionable fouls on him," he said but sombrely gave some credit to the Hawks defence.