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Bullets down hot JackJumpers in NBL

The Brisbane Bullets have battled to a much-needed 94-86 NBL victory over the in-form Tasmania JackJumpers.

The JackJumpers entered Saturday’s contest at Brisbane’s Nissan Arena as one of the hottest teams in the league after their record-equalling three-point barrage against the Illawarra Hawks earned the first-year franchise their fifth victory in the last six games.

But the Bullets capitalised on the absence of Tasmania’s defensive anchor Will Magnay to control the paint and snap a three-match losing streak as they claimed their sixth win of the season.

The Bullets powered to a 53-44 halftime lead thanks to a whopping 28-10 advantage for points in the paint then finished the match with 24 free-throw makes compared to Tasmania’s 10.

Brisbane coach James Duncan praised his players for their team-oriented approach after five Bullets finished with double-digit points.

“This is the message we have been talking about throughout the course of the season,” Duncan said.

“The guys came in really focused on doing that and following the game plan, just credit to the boys for sticking with it and giving the right effort.”

Import duo Robert Franks (23 points, 11 rebounds) and Lamar Patterson (16 points, 10 assists) each finished with a double-double while Nathan Sobey continued to ramp up his play since returning from a knee injury with 14 points in 21 minutes.

Brisbane withstood an early flurry of three-pointers from the JackJumpers to claim the opening quarter 24-22, Deng Deng making a major impact off the bench for the Bullets with a nine-point cameo.

A dour second period came to life after Tasmania edged ahead 37-35 as the home side closed the half on an 18-7 charge, including a run of nine unanswered points, as they surged to a 53-44 lead at the main break.

The Bullets appeared on track to blow the visitors away in the second half with a Jason Cadee triple extending their advantage to 14 points but Tasmania clamped down on defence to close the third quarter down by eight.

Brisbane held sway through the final term despite the dogged JackJumpers battling hard to stay in the contest, leaving JackJumpers coach Scott Roth lamenting his side’s first-half performance at the defensive end.

“(Conceding) 53 points in the first half is just not characteristic of us at all – it’s not how we’re built and how I coach or what I expect from these guys,” Roth said after Tasmania missed an opportunity to move one win behind the fourth-placed Hawks and fifth-placed Sydney Kings.

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