A breakout game by Boomers sharpshooter Ryan Broekhoff has inspired South East Melbourne Phoenix's 95-63 NBL mauling of Illawarra Hawks after Mitch Creek's controversial return.
It seemed only something extraordinary would silence the fired-up Wollongong crowd who booed Creek every time the Phoenix star touched the ball in his first game back since being charged for assault on March 15.
Boomers squad member Creek had not trained or played since being charged, however he was this week told by the NBL he could return after his case was adjourned until later next month.
But the hostile home crowd quickly went quiet after Broekhoff broke the shackles in his fifth game since returning from the NBA, sparking a stunning 24-0 third quarter run that sealed the Phoenix's biggest ever win.
Broekhoff shot 7-11 from three point range to finish with 26 points from less than 22 minutes off the bench, easily his best game since signing with the Phoenix in February.
Ahead of Thursday's game, Broekhoff had only managed scores of seven, three, three and eight for the Phoenix since moving back to Melbourne after having his NBA contract with Philadelphia waived.
Phoenix (11-8) leapfrogged the Hawks (10-9) for third spot.
The thumping marked the Hawks' six-time championship-winning coach and Boomers mentor Brian Goorjian's heaviest loss since 1997.
The only consolation for Goorjian was that Broekhoff was finally back in form ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.
"It's been frustrating the first few games, still finding my legs and my lungs, so it was really nice to see some shots go in," Broekhoff said.
It was a stunning result by the Phoenix who were playing their first away game since January 22 and battling with import guard Keifer Sykes, Dane Pineau and Kendall Stephens on the injury list.
Creek registered single figures for the first time this season - two points from 1-5 shooting.
The Phoenix now have a 6-0 record against the Hawks.
For Illawarra, star import Tyler Harvey passed a pre-match fitness test but appeared troubled by a back complaint to finish with four points (1-7 shooting).
Justinian Jessup had 21 points for the Hawks who led by 10 points at the first break before Broekhoff cut loose.