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GAME REPORT

Sixers Return Serve on Taipans with 26-Point Win

It has been a challenging season for the Adelaide 36ers but they gave Sixers fans something to cheer about on Friday night as they put the Cairns Taipans to the sword in an 83-57 slaughter at Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

For the best part of three quarters, this was a contest, but once Adelaide grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck the visiting - and battling - Taipans had nothing in the way of a response. 

The Sixers hit 18 straight points in the final quarter on the way to the 26-point win – the same margin the Taipans spanked them by in Cairns back on December 18.

In three seasons of NBL action, Cairns import Scott Machado has never gone scoreless. 

That record was broken on Friday night with the star point guard enduring a miserable 0/12 from the field, no free throws and a doughnut for his scoreline - raising further questions about the leg injury he suffered earlier in the season.

Captain Mitch McCarron was the catalyst for Adelaide snapping a five-game losing streak with a season-high 21 points, 10 rebounds and three assists - including 11 points in the first quarter alone.

McCarron said it had been a challenging season personally and was glad to break the shackles with a standout game.

"I have had some time, obviously the last game was last week, to think about how I have been playing," he said.

"As a group we have been frustrated, the coaching staff have been frustrated. It has been a reflection week and it sure feels good to get back to the winners table."

Cam Bairstow continued his reputation as the bargain buy of the season with 12 points and six boards while former Taipan Tad Dufelmeier had 10 points and five rebounds.

Highlights were hard to come by from Cairns. Their fourth-quarter surrender was the lowest last term score in franchise history. Keanu Pinder fought to the death with 15 points and 13 rebounds while Tahjere McCall's 14 points, six rebounds and five assists were tempered by four turnovers. 

Bul Kuol had 12 points and veteran Nate Jawai chipped in 10 off the bench, but it was not enough. 

The loss was hard for coach Adam Forde to take on a night where he felt nothing went right for his Taipans.

"My brother hits me up all the time, saying things like staying positive and that you can learn lessons from this. We have been doing a lot of learning this year," he said.

"Every game since we got out of the COVID break feels like we have been trying to atone for our previous game, this is probably no different. The guys are disappointed and we have to reflect and learn from it, try and grow."

With big man Stephen Zimmerman ruled out due to pain and swelling in his right knee, Taipans coach Adam Forde kept Majok Deng on the bench for a second straight game and went with a small line-up.

It was a curious choice, considering Adelaide has no shortage of tall timber including the likes of Daniel Johnson, Cameron Bairstow and Kai Sotto. 

Sotto was initially slated to start but took a knock at training that restricted his minutes and relegated him back to the bench. 

Adelaide players were licking their lips at the prospects of the mismatches in the paint but it ended up working against them more than it worked for them. Errors and wayward passes plagued their game early and coach CJ Bruton called them in for an early roast. 

It was becoming a competition on which coach could get the most frustrated, as offensive structures broke down at both ends and the errors piled up. While Adelaide had the height advantage, they were literally tossing that away and their early lead was built on three triples from skipper Mitch McCarron. 

Adelaide led 20-16 at quarter-time, but there was plenty of work to do for both sides after the scrappy first quarter. 

Cairns reeled off the first five points of the second quarter to claim the lead and continued their charge to turn a deficit into a handy 27-22 advantage before their old teammate Mojave King splashed a much-needed triple to stop the rot. 

King was feeling it and hit another triple to take the lead back for the 36ers. 

The big guns were failing to fire, though. Johnson only found his first field goal midway through the second term while Cairns point guard Scott Machado was having a miserable night, shooting 0/7. Adelaide began to surge, though and opened up a nine-point lead as the visitors struggled offensively.

While his teammates struggled, Pinder was having a party for the Taipans and he almost single-handedly brought his side back to within four points and firmly within the contest. It was Adelaide in front at halftime, though, leading 44-39.

The Pinder show rolled into the third quarter and the Taipans were back. It was a ripping battle in the third quarter as both sides wrestled for the ascendency and it was Adelaide who surged once more. A strong finish to the term gave them a commanding 61-51 lead heading into the final quarter. 

It quickly escalated into a slaughter as the Cairns heads dips, the flow of mistakes turned into a river and the Adelaide shooters were able to find all the space they needed to make hay.

HUNGRY JACK'S NBL ROUND 16

ADELAIDE 36ERS 83 (McCarron 21, Bairstow 12, Dufelmeier 10)

CAIRNS TAIPANS 57 (Pinder 15, McCall 14, Kuol 12) 

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