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Ball triple-double can't stop NZ Breakers

The New Zealand Breakers have withstood a Lamelo Ball-inspired Illawarra Hawks comeback to prevail 91-79 and break a five-game losing streak in the NBL.

With the Hawks trailing by 22 points midway though the third quarter, Ball came alive and notched a second successive triple-double to make history in Auckland on Saturday.

The margin was narrowed to two with seven minutes still on the clock before the rot was stopped, almost single-handedly, by veteran Breakers import Sek Henry.

The American import guard scored their next 13 points, including three successive three-pointers on the way to a 25-point haul.

He also pulled off two huge defensive plays on Ball in the closing minutes, first a block and later a steal followed by a length-of-the-court dunk.

The latter elicited a roar from a crowd of 8474, the biggest in Auckland for six years, seemingly not put off by a game between the two lowest-ranked teams in the league.

The Kiwi side improve to 3-8, relegating Illawarra (3-9) to last place.

Teenage sensation Ball was a major attraction and it was vindicated as he charged to 25 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists, with those figures inflated by a dominant second half.

The man regarded as a future NBA No.1 draft pick became the youngest player in league history to notch a triple-double, last week against Cairns.

Saturday's repeat means the 18-year-old is the first player to achieve the feat in successive games since the NBL went to 40-minute games a decade ago.

Ball began slowly, sinking only one of his first eight shots from the field, helping the Breakers pull nine clear by the first break. He never found his range from outside the arc either, landing one of 11 three-point attempts.

The Breakers were without key scorers Corey Webster and Scotty Hopson, who had both suggested midweek they would be back from injury.

They relied primarily on the scoring of Henry and Kiwi forward Finn Delany (20 points), along with the rebounding of Brandon Ashley, who picked up 14 boards and four steals.