Cairns Taipans are NBL finals-bound after a commanding 108-91 win against Adelaide 36ers on Saturday night.
An explosive start to the game and a powerful finish to the third quarter were pivotal in the home side's victory.
Cairns led by 18 points early in the second quarter to set up the win. The 36ers found their feet late in the term to peg the margin back to five points before half-time.
But a Cameron Oliver masterclass helped Cairns finish the quarter with a flurry to lead by 11 at the main break.
Adelaide threw all of their resources at the Taipans in the third term as star big man Daniel Johnson dominated across the court, backed up by import Jerome Randle.
The visitors drew within seven points on a handful of occasions before Cairns accelerated again.
Imports DJ Newbill (28 points), Scott Machado (21) and Oliver (24 and 15 rebounds) were consistent all night, while reserve guard Jarrod Kenny (11 points) lifted his side with three consecutive three-pointers to close out the third term to give his side a 14-point lead at the final change.
Adelaide struggled to put up a fight in the closing quarter as a packed Cairns stadium lifted the Taipans into the finals.
Taipans coach Mike Kelly was not prepared to declare his side finals bound, but was grinning from ear-to-ear in the post-match press conference.
"I loved a lot about it but the best thing was the energy, and then when Adelaide came back, the guys came back with great energy again," he said.
"The fundamentals were there for all four quarters."
Kelly praised his consistent American trio but pointed out the performance of Tall Blacks guard Kenny.
"I want to talk about the Kiwi," the coach said.
"I thought Jarrod Kenny was instrumental in really turning things for us in the second half.
"I'm just so proud of how he's continued to play."
Kelly said there was still room for improvement as he watched his side let Johnson dominant from all corners of the court. The 36ers forward would be left to rue his team's performance after producing one of his career-best games.
Johnson knocked down 38 points, shot at 55 per cent from the field and banked six from international waters.
"Daniel Johnson is a phenomenal player. He doesn't shoot a lot of threes but he got open tonight," Kelly said.
The power forward knocked down 38 points, shot at 55 per cent from the field and banked six from international waters.
Adelaide guard Randle would also finish with a double-double, collecting 21 points, 10 assists and 9 rebounds, but did not have the influence coach Joey Wright was hoping for.
The 13-10 Taipans should almost certainly play finals with five matches remaining. Their next match is against South East Melbourne on Australia Day.
Adelaide (11-12) can still feature in the NBL post-season but are competing with five clubs for one spot in the run home.
Australian Associated Press