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Taipans into third after tense win over Bullets

The Cairns Taipans have survived a final quarter buzzer-beater to win a NBL nailbiter 91-89 against the Brisbane Bullets on Friday night.

Cairns led by 18 at three-quarter time but had to hold off a barnstorming Bullets late in the contest.

Brisbane had a chance to win the game with a Nathan Sobey three-point attempt on the buzzer, but the shot was astray and the Taipans held on to notch their fourth straight win.

Wooden spooners last season with a 6-22 record, the Taipans are now 11-9 and in third spot on the competition ladder.

The first three quarters came straight out of the textbook for Cairns, who appeared to be cruising in second gear for most of the match.

Brisbane appeared dead and buried but cameos from EJ Singler and Lamar Patterson gave them a chance.

The Taipans led by four points with five seconds to go but the game was turned on its head when Scott Machado conceded an unsportsmanlike foul by grabbing an opponent's singlet.

Will Magnay made both free throws and Brisbane made a clean inbound before Sobey had an open look on the perimeter to win the game for the visitors.

Imports DJ Newbill (28 points), Cameron Oliver (21 and 12 rebounds) and Machado (16) were the standouts for Cairns, while veteran big man Nate Jawai (12) showed glimpses of his youth in the paint.

Co-captains Newbill and Jawai were happy to get the win but were not impressed with the final quarter fade out.

"It's big for our group," Newbill said. "I said at halftime that Brisbane was going to keep on punching. They mixed up their defence, which they do so well, but we've got to be better than that - we'll work on it."

Jawai said his side "just relaxed".

"It's something that we need to work on. It's a habit that we've created. "Hopefully we can finish games in a much more comfortable situation instead of putting ourselves in a tight spot."

Singler was the only Bullets player to register double-digits in the opening three quarters and finished with 20 for the night.

He was eventually joined in double digits by Patterson (16), Magnay (14) and Sobey (10).

The Bullets, fighting to stay in finals contention, host the Perth Wildcats on Sunday while Cairns welcome the New Zealand Breakers on Thursday night.