NBL: Shawn Long sparks New Zealand Breakers to win over Illawarra Hawks

Shawn Long's four early dunks have ignited a 96-79 win for the New Zealand Breakers over the Illawarra Hawks and fuelled their push to reclaim an NBL top four spot.

American centre Long was the game's standout figure by a distance in Hamilton on Friday, scoring 26 points and pulling down 13 rebounds.

Both of those figures were nearly double any team-mate.

Boasting a potent mix of athleticism and aggression, the former University of Louisiana big man has had his output blunted by foul problems in his debut NBL season.

He had no such issues against a Hawks team who appeared intimidated at times as the 25-year-old dominated the inside, finishing with eight dunks.

Four of those jams came in the first quarter, pushing the hosts to a 22-10 advantage.

The lead was never less than nine points after that.

The result ends a three-match losing streak at home for the Breakers and, following last week's win over Cairns, lifts them level to fifth with the Adelaide 36ers.

Both boast a 6-8 record, shaded by fourth-placed Brisbane.

Illawarra (6-9) are still in that dogfight but will need to play with more intensity.

The effort of the players was questioned throughout by irate coach Rob Beveridge.

The game was marred by turnovers while neither team thrived with their three-point shooting, landing a combined 13 from 53 attempts.

Fellow-Americans Pat Richards (14 points) and Armani Moore (13) provided the best scoring support for Long while Tai Wesley pulled off four blocks to highlight an emphatic team defensive display.

Moore said staying out of early foul trouble made for a pleasant change and let the Breakers unleash their high-octane style in a manner not seen this season.

"We know how much we can do. To put it all together feels great," he said.

"I know not everything this season has been pretty but, man, it was fun today."

Moore said it's the sort of display ahead of their looming double-header away to Adelaide either side of New Year's Eve.

"Two big games. If we come out and play like we did today, there's no doubt in my mind we can go there and take care of business."

Key Breakers guard Corey Webster missed the game with a minor ankle injury but is expected to travel to Adelaide.

Jordair Jett (16) and AJ Ogilvy (13) were the best Hawks scorers while Ogilvy eventually found his feet against Long, finishing with 10 rebounds.