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Breakers continue late NBL winning streak

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 22/01/2017

The Breakers have continued their march up the Australian NBL ladder with a heart-stopping 86-82 win over defending champions Perth in Auckland.

The Kiwis repeated their Auckland victory over the Wildcats in a replay of last year's grand final series, wrapping up their fourth consecutive win in the process.

The win came despite an unenviable turnover rate, the Breakers coughing up possession 24 times to Perth's nine.

The Kiwis narrowly edged the visitors 20-18 in the first quarter, building to a 39-34 lead in a low-scoring first half.

They looked continued to look comfortable with a 54-42 lead and less than 90 seconds remaining until the three-quarter break.

But former NBA guard Bryce Cotton, who finished with a game-high 26, and Jesse Wagstaff narrowed the gap to 54-47 with five quick points before the last break.

The Wildcats found another gear as the final quarter progressed, their speed on the break catching the Breakers' transition defence napping and with less than five minutes remaining, the home team's lead evaporated to 68-64.

But Paul Carter stood up with a key three-pointer, then Kevin Dillard capitalised on a Rob Loe block with a smooth lay-up and suddenly the Breakers looked comfortable again.

Perth kept pushing, and the Breakers kept helping out by gifting them plenty of turnover ball.

A 75-67 lead with a minute and a half remaining was closed to just three when Shawn Redhage's three-pointer was followed by a Cotton lay-up after Dillard coughed up possession under pressure.

But with Shea Ili and Dillard cool from the free-throw line, the Breakers reclaimed their lead, holding on in the endless, hectic closing seconds to secure the win.

Kirk Penney led the way for the Kiwis with 25 points and six rebounds, while Dillard contributed 20 including three of four from the three-point line.

For the Wildcats, Angus Brandt (14) and Casey Prather (13) provided the back-up for Cotton.

The Breakers still need at least two more wins from their next three games, and now turn their focus to hosting Cairns Taipans on Thursday.

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