Machado Helps Taipans Sink Bullets

A vintage Scott Machado performance has seen the Cairns Taipans end their losing run at the expense of the Brisbane Bullets at Cairns Convention Centre on Thursday night, winning 73-69.

To say both teams needed the win to open Round 13 in the Sunshine Stoush would be quite the understatement. Cairns had lost four straight and seven of the past eight, and Brisbane two in-a-row and six of the past seven.

It was the Taipans, though, who came out of the blocks firing racing to an 8-0 lead and then still being up 32-19 after the opening quarter.

Their lead did grow to as much as 16, but starts weren’t their problem. They outscored their opponents in both Round 12 games 44-26 in first quarters, but only managed a total of 81 points in the other six periods while conceding 135.

Things didn’t really change too much on Thursday night. The Bullets eventually closed the gap to two points late in the piece. But ultimately a Machado three-point bomb with 25 seconds remaining was the dagger and the Taipans won despite just 41 points after quarter-time.

Machado appeared to be moving much better and was more assured with the ball in hand to finish with 17 points and seven assists for the Snakes.

Bul Kuol went 4/6 from downtown for 14 points while Tahjere McCall had 12 points and five assists, Stephen Zimmerman nine points and 13 rebounds, and Mirko Djeric nine points on 3/6 from deep.

Taipans coach Adam Forde was a relieved man post-match to come away with the win.

"I feel like after the week we've had and trying to address our demons, and that's the secret right, let's try and score all our points in the first quarter and then try to hold on for dear life," Forde said.

"We struggled to tick that scoreboard over in the third and the fourth, but we're trying to hang our hat on right now is defensively and everything else is a learning curve. 

"If we can hold it down defensively which for the most part we've done a considerable job of for the whole season, the offence will slowly but surely come."

While Lamar Patterson finished with 12 points and Robert Franks 10 for Brisbane, they were scoreless in the first quarter and had a combined six points to half-time.

Nathan Sobey returned but was only allowed to play 13 minutes for 11 points while Jason Cadee top-scored with 15 to go with eight dimes.

Bullets coach James Duncan was frustrated with how his team started so poorly and that they just aren’t gelling as they should be as a group.

"There's a certain way to play basketball, defensively and offensively. Usually the teams that make finals in the NBL are the top four defensive teams, that's just how it is," Duncan said.

"The second side to it is that when the ball moves and everyone is touching it, and feeling good about themselves, then something positive 100 per cent is going to happen. Maybe you'll miss an open shot or layup, but everybody feels it and we've been doing that through the course of these past previous games. 

"We didn’t in this game and we paid the price. I feel like there was a little bit of selfish play in tonight's game for whatever reason, which there shouldn’t be because we are trying to get back on the winning path. The only way we are going to do that is together as a group and as a team."

The heat was on for the Taipans to come out strongly after their two rough losses in Round 12 after good starts to be on a four-game losing slide, and they produced exactly that in front of the Orange Army.

Stephen Zimmerman scored first down low and they would hold Brisbane scoreless for more than four minutes to open the game. Majok Deng made four free-throws and Scott Machado hit a basket for the 8-0 lead before Chuanxing Liu opened Brisbane's account.

But triples from Machado and Tahjere McCall quickly put Cairns out to a 14-4 edge. 

The returning Nathan Sobey and Jason Cadee tried to shoot the Bullets back into the game with threes, but Zimmerman was having his way down low, Machado was feeling good and by shooting 12/18 for the term, the Snakes went into quarter-time up 32-19. 

The Bullets got zero points on a combined 0/5 from star imports Robert Franks and Lamar Patterson in the first quarter, and things didn’t get much better to start the second. 

Neither team found the going easy with just the two points combined in the opening four minutes, but then the Snakes stretched the lead. It got out to 15 after Bul Kuol's second three-point make. 

Patterson finally scored a couple of buckets while Sobey converted a three-point play and Cadee made his third triple of the half, but still it was Cairns up 51-41 at the break.

It was a horror opening to the second half from Cairns and Brisbane put up the first five points to get back within five. That would be as close as they got, though, and despite the Taipans only scoring nine points for the quarter, a late three helped them maintain the seven-point edge.

The Bullets weren't going away, though, and despite a three ball from Mirko Djeric, the visitors kept coming and were just down four with six minutes left.

A Franks three-pointer soon after brought the Bullets back within two and the Taipans were struggling to execute anything offensively. But suddenly with the shot clock expiring, Machado drained a critical three to extend the lead back to five with 25 seconds remaining.

The Snakes were able to hold on from there to snap their four-game losing streak but to extend Brisbane's to three.

Both teams play again in Round 13 with the Bullets to host the Tasmania JackJumpers on Saturday at Nissan Arena. The Taipans will then be back at Cairns Convention Centre on Sunday against the ladder-leading Melbourne United.


CAIRNS TAIPANS 73 (Machado 17, Kuol 14, McCall 12)

BRISBANE BULLETS 69 (Cadee 15, Patterson 12, Sobey 11) 



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