Under fire import, Lamar Patterson silenced his critics to carry the NZ Breakers to a 85-79 victory over the Cairns Taipans.
Patterson, who was dropped to the bench by coach Dan Shamir after his poor start to the season, responded in the best possible way with his best performance of the campaign. The American (22 points on 8-of-15 shooting) showed signs of his old self early in the second half before exploding in the fourth quarter to guide his side to their first win of the season.
The import was helped out mightly by Tall Blacks guard Tai Webster who continued his red hot form with (23 points, 11 rebounds, 5 assists) but all the headlines will go to Patterson.
After having zero points in his last outing and pundits criticising him for being out of shape, Patterson put those critics to bed as he played lights out basketball to guide the Auckland side to a critical victory.
Finn Delany pitched in with a valuable 13 points and 9 rebounds for the Kiwis, while Tom Abercrombie and Rob Loe added 8 points apiece.
Cairns who drop to 1-6 for the season, were led by the double act of Scott Machado (25 points, 12 assists) and Cam Oliver (17 points, 10 rebounds).
The home side faded badly and will rue yet another home loss, especially in a game where they held the lead for much of the night to now have lost six straight with five of those on their home court.
The Auckland side came out on fire, scoring 14 points inside the opening three minutes as Tai Webster looked to attack from the tip-off. He was his dominant self with 18 of his 23 coming in the opening half.
The Breakers led 25-20 at quarter-time but Machado caught fire nailing two threes midway through the second term to drag his club back into the lead before continuing to mix his own buckets with assists for the likes of Oliver (17 points, 10 rebounds) as the home side went on a 12-2 run to end the second stanza to led 44-41 at half-time.
The Breakers came out sluggish in the third quarter and it looked like being another long night before a late run from Patterson saw the former NBA forward score five quick points to see the margin cut to 66-59 heading into the final term.
The Snakes led by six with three-and-a-half minutes to go but the visitors were simply more desperate for the victory when it mattered most with strong defence the name of the game.
A brain explosion from Taipans star man Machado as threw a wayward pass that found Tai Wester who dished it off to Abercrombie for the two-handed dunk to put the Breakers ahead for good with 27 seconds to play.
The victory sees the Breakers jump up to seventh on the table while the Taipans slip to the bottom of the ladder.
The two teams now do it all again at the same venue on Monday night 9:30pm.
NZ Breakers 85 (Tai Webster 23, Lamar Patterson 22, Finn Delany 13), Cairns Taipans 79 (Scott Machado 25, Cameron Oliver 19, Kouat Noi 10),