Illawarra have shown no sign of rust after a week off to dispose of NBL battlers Cairns 95-84.
The Hawks moved from seventh to equal fifth on the championship table with the Cairns Convention Centre win.
The visitors led by 14 at one stage and were in control for most of the match, cashing in on what has become a worrying trademark from the Taipans side, repeat turnovers.
Illawarra managed to score 17 points by salvaging lost possession and ended up with 14 fast-break points.
The result extended Cairns' losing streak to nine.
The Hawks' scoring was shared around, with Todd Blanchfield (20), Brian Conklin (17), Tim Coenraad (14), Jordair Jett (13) and AJ Ogilvy (11) all registering double digits.
Remarkably, the southerners scored 42 points off the bench compared to the Taipans' 14.
"Any win is great, particularly in Cairns," Illawarra coach Rob Beveridge said.
"It was also unbelievably frustrating. I felt we controlled the game but we were always in danger.
"We missed 16 free throws and that allowed them to have a sniff."
Cairns were powered by the reliable DJ Newbill, who scored 21 points after landing four from long range.
Fellow import Melo Trimble scored 19 points, while rookie American Devon Hall also hit four from the perimeter to end up with 15.
The Taipans haven't won a game since beating Brisbane in the opening round of the season and now travel to Perth to take on the ladder-leading Wildcats on Sunday.
Coach Mike Kelly must find a way to inspire his side to play defence after they continually leaked easy points against Illawarra.
Kelly was frustrated with his side's ability to pressure the opposition.
"To come out and lose but to also come out and shoot ourselves in the foot with first-half turnovers which led to buckets for them ... was disappointing," he said.
"We need to be better and we're working hard on it."
The Hawks, with a 5-7 record, also hit the road on Sunday, playing the Adelaide 36ers, who boast the same win-loss tally.
Australian Associated Press