It's been a case of win and they'll flock to the fortress for the Hawke's Bay basketball franchise.

The IMS Payroll Hawks are seven and oh at home after beating Fico Finance Nelson Giants 86-79 in Napier on Saturday night.

A close to 80 per cent-full Pettigrew-Green Arena showed their appreciation to the Bartercard National Basketball League (NBL) table toppers in what was the best turnout this season.

"It was an all-round performance and a lot of guys got double figures," said forward Kareem Johnson after claiming a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds with fellow Hawks American import Dustin Scott (13pts, 13 rebounds).


"We shared the ball around, man, and got open shots because players made plays for each other," Johnson said of the Paora Winitana-captained Hawks.

The hosts had an air of confidence about their defence in the last quarter after blowing away the Giants, 26-12, in the third spell.

"We have been focusing on our defence and rotation because that's what it takes to win championships," he said, as the Tab Baldwin-coached Hawks seek only their second crown in the history of the NBL.

Johnson, who supports NBA playoff hopefuls Miami Heat, urged the Hawks' faithful to keep backing them all the way to the Final Four in Wellington early next month.

The Hawks opened a comfortable lead in the first quarter but the Liam Flynn-coached visitors slowly but surely gnawed back to lead before Anamata Haku signed off with three-pointer for a 20-20 tie.

With 46 seconds left in the second half, ex-Hawk Josh Pace scored a basket to draw a foul but the Phill Jones-captained Nelson fell shy of establishing a 10-point lead.

The sides headed for the locker rooms with the Giants leading 41-35 (21-15).

The Hawks shot to a 43-41 lead in the third quarter, prompting Flynn to call a timeout.


However, Marco Alexander dropped a letter of intent from way downtown to beat the buzzer for a 61-53 (26-12) lead.

The Giants battled to within three points at one stage in the final fling but the Hawks' defence didn't flinch despite the Giants clinching the quarter 26-25.

Flynn lauded Nelson for buying into their game plan in the first half but lamented a dismal second spell.

"It was really disappointing that we didn't follow it for four quarters," the Australian said.

While he agreed having Tall Blacks captain and hardman Mika Vukona would have helped, he felt they could only focus on who they had.

"Everyone who steps on to the floor needs to perform in big occasions and that didn't happen tonight."


Good sides, such as the Hawks, would thrive on Nelson's "rubbish defence".

He said inconsistencies in a game were expected but for an entire third quarter it was simply inexcusable.

The Hawks moved the ball well but Nelson only did that in the first spell.

Flynn said it was a nice touch for the hosts to acknowledge veteran Nelson guard Jones before the game.

Baldwin presented Jones a gift for becoming the most-capped NBL player, eclipsing the 360-game record of ex-Hawk, Manawatu, Taranaki player Willie Burton, of Napier.

Nelson import Jamal Boykin showed his class with a game-high 25 points and 11 rebounds while Pace only managed nine points and five off the boards.


Hawks shooting guard Everard Bartlett was Mr Consistent with 16 points and seven assists while point guard Jarrod Kenny contributed 12 points, six rebounds and four assists. Winitana chimed in with 11 points, three assists and two steals.

For the Giants, Josh Bloxham scored 15 points with Jones adding 12 points and three steals.

The Hawks play Waitakere away this Saturday and the Jets in Palmerston North the following Saturday before returning home the next day to host Southland Sharks at the PG Arena in another double header.

They play Taranaki away before the final pool match against the Nuggets at home on June 28.