Basketball: NZ Breakers blow by Brisbane Bullets to move within reach of all-important second spot

NZ Breakers are now within reach of the valuable second spot on the Australian NBL ladder after a one-sided victory over Brisbane Bullets on Thursday.

Just days after snapping their four-game losing streak with a showpiece performance against league-leading Sydney Kings, the Breakers cruised past the streaking Bullets 99-71 at Nissan Arena to move to 15-10 on the season, extending their outstanding record on the road to 9-3.

They sit in third place with three regular season games remaining and could surpass the 16-9 Cairns Taipans to earn automatic qualification for the semi-finals, with the bonus of holding the tiebreaker against the Queensland side also in their favour.

Following a tight opening quarter, the Kiwi franchise blew the game open by pouring in 33 points in the second quarter. They came out of the halftime interval on an 11-0 run to quickly extend their advantage to 25 points against the shellshocked Bullets, essentially killing off the contest.

Breakers standout Will McDowell-White goes to the rim.
Breakers standout Will McDowell-White goes to the rim. Photo credit: Getty Images

Import forward Jarrell Brantley was again at the forefront for the Breakers in Brisbane, backing up his superb outing against the Kings with 22 points on an efficient 8/11 shooting, on a night where the Breakers as a team shot at an impressive 55 percent clip.

Front-court partner Dererk Pardon added 17 points on 7/10 shooting to go with nine rebounds, while Barry Brown Jr returned from a groin injury and picked up right where he left off, chiming in with his trademark instant offence with 14 points in just 15 minutes of court time.

Point guard Izaya Leafa also returned to action after being sidelined with a back injury and looked spry in his 21 minutes.

Former NBA regular Tyler Johnson was the lone standout for the Bullets with 20 points and five boards.

"We played a good game. We kept them to 71 points, which is good and that's our baseline," said Breakers coach Mody Maor.

"It's nice to have everyone back and even with minutes restriction and finding rhythm and stuff, it's good to have all of our guys. It gives us another gear to push on and another punch off the bench. 

"I'm pleased but it's onto the next one."

The Breakers now return home for a critical showdown with Melbourne United at Spark Arena on Saturday, where victory would secure their spot in the playoffs.

They'll then head back across the ditch to face Illawarra Hawks on Thursday, before rounding out their regular season against the Bullets back in Brisbane on Saturday, February 4 - all games they need to win to ensure they're in the hunt for second.

NZ Breakers 99 (Brantley 22, Pardon 17, Brown Jr 14), Brisbane Bullets 71 (Johnson 20, Baynes 13)