Breakers stop the rot with NBL win over Taipans

Jasper Bruce |

The New Zealand Breakers have got the better of the Cairns Taipans, winning 91-81 in the NBL.
The New Zealand Breakers have got the better of the Cairns Taipans, winning 91-81 in the NBL.

The New Zealand Breakers have breathed life into their sputtering NBL campaign with a much-needed 91-81 defeat of the Cairns Taipans in Christchurch.

Staring down the possibility of a 1-5 start, last season’s runners-up cleaned early turnovers out of their game and rode a 30-17 third quarter to victory on Friday night.

Ex-NBA forward Anthony Lamb (game-high 19 points) hit three three-pointers in the space of 90 seconds to help turn a one-point halftime deficit into a 12-point lead at the final change.

The Kiwi side never again trailed.

The win hoists last season’s runners-up from the bottom of the ladder and stops the rot after a campaign start disrupted by injuries and a trip to America for the NBA pre-season.

“It’s fairly satisfying,” Breakers coach Mody Maor said.

“You could see there was a level of connectedness, the way they played. They created for each other. It’s a very good step for us.”

Breakers guard Parker Jackson-Cartwright (13 points, seven assists) shook off knee soreness and was influential early in the third term as the Breakers got going.

Benched to begin the game, Boomers representative Will McDowell-White helped stick the boot in late with a three-pointer just after the final change.

He scored 12 of his 14 points in the final term – more than any other Breaker.

Action from NZ Breakers against Cairns in the NBL.
The Breakers breathed life into their NBL campaign with victory over Cairns.

The Taipans sit at 3-3 ahead of Sunday’s road clash with South East Melbourne.

“The level of disappointment by that team in the locker room right now, you know, they are feeling the loss,” Cairns coach Adam Forde said.

Without Patrick Miller (back injury) and Tahjere McCall (personal leave), the Taipans’ back-court lacked punch.

Highly rated guard Taran Armstrong managed only seven points and one assist on his NBL debut following a foot injury.

“He naturally will critique himself harder than anyone else,” Forde said.

“That was his first hit-out and he’s only going to get better.”

Bul Kuol (18 points, three rebounds) was again a workhorse for Cairns, coming 64 seconds short of playing 40 minutes for a second consecutive game, with Lat Mayen (18 points, seven rebounds) also big.

But they struggled for support, in no small part due to impressive Next Star Bobi Klintman finding himself in foul trouble early. 

Cairns were never able to take full advantage of the Breakers’ lack of size, with American big man Zylan Cheatham out for at least another five weeks.

Mangok Mathiang took on a mountain of work in the post for the Breakers and finished with a game-high 11 rebounds.

“I have high expectations for Mangok and the last two games have been a step in the right direction,” Maor said.

American guard McCall rejoined the Taipans following the birth of his child and is a chance to return against the Phoenix.

“Tahj, from the flight, didn’t pull up that great so there was no point putting him in a high-risk category to hurt himself,” Forde said.