The Adelaide 36ers broke a six-game losing streak against the Cairns Taipans with a thrilling 85-81 victory at Adelaide Arena on Saturday.
Adelaide opened a 10-point lead early in the fourth quarter but couldn't shake the gutsy Taipans as Jamar Wilson threw himself into every contest to give his side a chance.
Adam Gibson was a four-quarter performer but almost dropped the bundle with a nervous airball when the difference was just two.
He made amends moments later, however, dropping two from the charity stripe to give the 36ers the break they needed.
Gibson finished with 21 points, Daniel Johnson made some bold and vital buckets in the fourth to finish with 16 and Luke Schenscher (15 points, 10 rebounds) made important plays when his team was struggling.
For Cairns, Clint Steindl was deadly with 14 first-half points and 19 for the game, Wilson finished strongly with 16 points and Cameron Tragardh scored 14.
Adelaide coach Marty Clarke as pleased with the team's ability "to execute under pressure down the stretch".
"Obviously they threw everything at us ... but we had some great contributors across the board," Clarke said.
"Gibbo was fantastic, he did a great job and not just that he made shots - his ability to run the team defensively and control the game defensively.
"I thought Luke (Schenscher) and DJ (Johnson) battled hard."
Clarke praised his team's fight to recoup a double-figure deficit and said fans should get used to tight finishes.
"There's going to be a lot of games like that through this year because the league is so close."
Taipans coach Aaron Fearne said mental fatigue kicked in when the game was up for grabs following Friday's win over Sydney.
"I talked to the guys about the discipline and concentration and we just broke down when we really needed to lock in," he said.
"I'm disappointed we lost but really proud of the guys' effort this weekend … we're only going to get better ."
The Sixers looked rusty in the first quarter, dropping only 6-of-21 attempts as only Schenscher bucked the trend with a dunk, a block and nine points close to the hoop.
Cairns' ability to share the ball gave them a 19-16 quarter-time lead and then Steindl racked up 11 points in a hurry to create a 13-point second-quarter advantage.
But the Sixers responded with a 19-7 run to claw back into the contest as a Wilson technical foul further added to the Taipans' frustration.
Cairns still took a 42-41 lead into half-time, and it was blow-for-blow in the third quarter before Adelaide's persistence and work rate earned a double-digit buffer.
The crowd fired up as Schenscher blocked Wilson only to cop a foul for man-handling his smaller opponent.
Adelaide led by only five (65-60) with 10 minutes to play but Johnson and Jason Cadee (9 points, 7 assists) combined to open up another handy buffer.
Wilson then produced his customary final-quarter efforts but turned the ball over when he had a chance to force overtime and the 36ers sealed the result from the free-throw line.
Adelaide 36ers 85 (Gibson 21, Johnson 16, Schenscher 15)
Cairns Taipans 81 (Steindl 19, Wilson 16, Tragardh 14)
Crowd: 4331 at Adelaide Arena