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Taipans snap Kings' NBL winning streak

NZN 5/11/2016 Josh Bristow

The Cairns Taipans have broken the Sydney Kings' five-game unbeaten streak in the NBL with a 64-57 victory at the Snakepit.

The win on Saturday night means the Snakes have a three-game winning streak of their own after starting the season with three losses.

Cairns were rocked by the injury withdrawal of livewire American point guard Travis Trice the day before the clash, but a wily veteran and their remaining imports took up the slack.

Old head Mark Worthington top-scored for the Snakes with 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists, while Fuquan Edwin continued his recent hot form with 11 points and back-up centre Nnanna Egwu contributed nine points and eight rebounds.

It was a dire first quarter in Cairns, and was bucketless for almost three minutes as both teams blocked four shots between them.

Cairns found their groove first. Breakout guard Damon Heuir backed up from his career-best game in round four to land a couple of well-taken shots to give the Snakes a 16-10 lead at the break.

From there the Taipans would blow the score out to as much as 10 before the Kings' reeled them back to one point with a long-range dagger from Jason Cadee to start the final quarter.

The Kings had run riot over the Taipans after being in front by only two with three minutes to go in round two, but on their home turf the Taipans wouldn't be denied.

Cairns utility Jarrod Weeks ran through almost the entire Sydney team to slam down a dunk in the final minute to end the Kings' best start to an NBL season since 2006.

Sydney guard Steve Blake was a passenger for much of the contest in his second NBL game, with the former LA Laker finishing without a single point after 17 minutes of court time.

Reigning NBL MVP Kevin Lisch was the Kings' best, making five shots from the field for 15 points in his return from injury, while Josh Powell was strong in a key match-up against Nate Jawai, scoring 11 points.

Jawai proved he's awoken from his sluggish early-season form, emerging from the clash with 10 points and three rebounds.

The teams will meet again at Qudos Bank Arena in Sydney on Monday night.

Both teams had a poor night in attack, shooting at 33 per cent from the field, but Cairns coach Aaron Fearne was just relieved to get the win in his 250th match as a Taipans player or coach.

"Both teams didn't shoot the ball very well. We kind of couldn't get on a roll offensively and make enough shots in a row, but we'll take it," Fearne said.

Kings counterpart Andrew Gaze was similarly displeased with his side's wayward shooting.

"It wasn't the most pretty of games. It was an arm wrestle, it was a slog and they did it better than we did," he said.

With the teams to meet at Qudos Bank Arena, Gaze won't take any note of the Taipans' poor historical form on the road.

"They have this us-against-them mentality and they do it very well here, but make no mistake they have a really, really good team and a great coach," he said.

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