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Taipans claim bragging rights in derby win

Cairns have ended a five-game NBL slide with a 98-88 victory over state rivals Brisbane following a stellar performance by American guard Tahjere McCall.

McCall pulled all the strings at Nissan Arena on Sunday, finishing with 21 points, six assists and five steals after the Taipans got off to a red-hot start.

Fellow import guard Scott Machado bounced back from a non-scoring game against Adelaide and chimed in with 12 points, and 11 assists – the most assists by any player this season.

The Taipans (5-13) powered to their highest-ever quarter time lead, blowing out the Bullets 32-12 in that period as the hosts faced a deficit as high as 21 early.

Nine turnovers in the opening term forced Brisbane coach James Duncan into multiple timeouts before his side found their groove in the second to face a 10 point margin at the main break.

A rejuvenated Brisbane (7-13) started the second half with three straight triples, but the Taipans had their number on every run as the margin bounced from six to 12.

Boosting Cairns’ push, coach Adam Forde overturned three calls with his coaches challenge taking his tally to eight straight in the NBL, before that ended on a tight call late in the quarter.

With both teams in the bonus early in the fourth, the home side lost stars Lamar Patterson and Robert Franks to foul trouble, and Cairns stifled all their momentum as they held on to claim just their second road win of the season.

The win lifts the Taipans off the bottom of the ladder and hands them a season series win over rivals Brisbane, having won all three clashes so far, with one game to come in the final round.

“Every win – doesn’t matter who we play right now – just feels really good,” Forde said.

“Full credit to Brisbane. They shot the hell out of the ball and we struggled to defend them in different scenarios…they went deep into their bench and they just kept fighting.

“It feels good in the sense that it was a real competitive game. I tip my hat to what JD (James Duncan) has done here in Brisbane, trying to keep those guys tough and they were tough today.”

With Brisbane’s finals hopes fading away rapidly, Duncan said his side’s efforts on Sunday were simply unacceptable in front of their fans.

“Everybody has an opinion but actions are the truth, which is what something I said from the beginning of the season. And our actions this evening are just not acceptable, in my opinion,” he said.

“We need to be better collectively as a group.

“I’m a little bit lost for words because we’ve been doing some good things. But yes, like some of these quarters that we encounter, we’re not up to the task. We need to be better.”

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