BASKETBALL: Inspired by a game-high 27 points from Travis Trice, the Cairns Taipans' push for a NBL playoff gathered further momentum with a 97-83 home win over the Brisbane Bullets.
The Taipans' third victory in succession lifted their record to 12 wins and 12 losses, putting them firmly in frame for a top-four finish ahead of their final four matches of the regular season.
The last-placed Bullets slumped to their 16th defeat in their return NBL season, fading in the final stages after scores were locked at 68-68 early in the last quarter.
Brisbane guard Jeremy Kendle sank 24 points, while former Taipans forward Torrey Craig hit 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds for the losers.
But while Kendle and Craig were gallant for the visitors, it was American guard Trice who stole the show to the delight of the crowd at the Cairns Convention Centre.
Apart from his 27 points, he also had five assists and four rebounds in a great all-round display.
Veteran forward Mark Worthington, who will retire at the end of the season, chipped in with 14 points and four assists for the hosts.
The Taipans took control early to lead by six points at quarter-time.
However, the gallant Bullets, whose season has been wrecked by injuries stayed in the contest, and after three quarters only trailed by two points.
But after drawing level soon after the last break, Brisbane's tired legs caught up with him, with the Taipans scoring 29 of the contest's final 44 points to storm to win the Queensland derby.
In yesterday's early game, the Sydney Kings, who beat the Bullets by three points in Brisbane on Friday night, thrashed the New Zealand Breakers 84-57 to maintain their own bid for the playoffs.
The Taipans will aim for a fourth consecutive win when they visit Wollongong this Friday night to meet the Illawarra Hawks.
Brisbane are also in action on Friday when they take on the Wildcats in Perth.