Basketball: NZ Breakers fall short in costly ANBL defeat to Cairns Taipans at home

NZ Breakers have slipped to their third straight ANBL defeat, falling 85-83 to Cairns Taipans at home and losing further ground on the competition leaders.

Seemingly cruising towards an automatic playoff spot through the first 13 games of their campaign, the Auckland club have now lost six of their last eight games to fall out of the top two, and this result only widens the gap between them and the second-placed Taipans.

Trailling by as many as 13 points in the second quarter, the Breakers fought back to within one point with 11 seconds remaining and deliberately fouled to send Taipans forward Bul Kuol to the free-throw line.

Jarell Brantley in action for the Breakers
Jarell Brantley in action for the Breakers. Photo credit: Photosport

Referees awarded an unsportsmanlike foul, but Kuol converted only one of two attempts from the stripe and Cairns promptly turned the ball over to gift the Breakers one last chance to snatch victory.

They ran an out-of-bounds play that freed captain Tom Abercrombie for a three-point attempt that came up short.

Playing their second game without injured American Barry Brown Jr, the Breakers struggled to cover his absence, despite guard Will McDowell-White leading all scorers with 29 points - including seven three-pointers - and forward Jarell Brantley's big double double of 25 points/14 rebounds.

No-one else broke double figures.

Coach Mody Maor couldn't point the finger at referees this time - the Breakers attempted more free throws than their rivals, while the foul count was relatively even (20-19).

They were far more efficient from beyond the arc (15/34), but were outscored 32-22 from close range and 23-8 off turnovers.  

Cairns have now won six in a row, sweeping past the Breakers on the table to trail defending champions Sydney Kings.

The Breakers have a chance to halt their slide, when they host bottom-placed Illawarra Hawks on Thursday.

Cairns Taipans 85 (Hogg 18, McCall 18, Kuol 18, Scott 10) NZ Breakers 83 (McDowell-White 29, Brantley 25)