9 Dec 2016

Breakers snap skid

12:05 pm on 9 December 2016

The New Zealand Breakers have broken their four-game NBL basketball losing streak with a 82-75 win over the Brisbane Bullets in Auckland.

Kirk Penney in action for the Breakers

Kirk Penney in action for the Breakers Photo: Photosport

The win lifts the Breakers off the bottom of a congested table into fourth place, and consigned the second-placed Bullets to their third loss from four games.

It was the Breakers' second win from three starts against the Bullets this season, after last month's 86-70 victory followed an opening 82-88 loss in Brisbane.

The Breakers anchored their win at Vector Arena around a third-quarter blitz after the scores were level at 39-39 following a dour first half.

They opened the spell with a 16-0 scoring run, built around strong defensive work close in and smart transition play.

But they fell off in the closing minutes of the quarter, gifting Cameron Bairstow a three-pointer on the buzzer to close the spell and narrow the Breakers' lead to 63-55 at the last break.

The final quarter turned into a grim tussle as both teams upped the defensive pressure, Mika Vukona and Akil Mitchell both fouling out for the Breakers inside the last four minutes.

Vukona finished the game with 12 points and four rebounds, one of five Breakers players to reach double figures.

Kirk Penney led the way with 16 points, including four of five from the three-point line, while Tom Abercrombie picked up 15.

Rob Loe's 14 was backed up by his sterling work in amassing seven rebounds and three assists, while Alex Pledger was busy in collecting 10 rebounds to go with his eight points.

Breakers coach Paul Henare - who challenged his group during the week to 'get nasty' - was pleased with how his troops bounced back.

"We came out and played with the right intent. Did we 'get nasty'? Maybe we didn't need to," Henare said.

"But I think they responded well. The way Mika [Vukona] came into the game and set a tone - it wasn't just about making baskets, but jut his aggressive mindset.

"It was one of the few times this year where he's waved me down and asked for a sub, and that was before the six-minute mark. He was literally feeling spent three-and-a-half minutes into the game. And that's where we need to get to in terms of effort.

"I singled out Mika, but I thought the starting group laid a platform for us to set totals to defend, and set a tone in terms of how we wanted to defend."

Bairstow led the way for the Andrej Lemanis-coached Bullets, scoring a game-high 20 which included nine of 11 from the free-throw line.