Jason Cadee scored 26 points and Tohi Smith-Milner continued his hot form with 22 points, including 10 in the final quarter, as the Super City Rangers defeated the Southland Sharks 97-94 in Waitakere.
Dillon Boucher ended two assists short of a triple-double, tallying 10 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists for the Rangers, who had to hold off the Sharks, who closed to within one point with 46 seconds left after Kevin Braswell and Luke Martin hit back to back threes.
Cadee knocked down two free-throws on the next possession, but the Sharks got a basket from Brian Conklin and forced a Rangers turnover, setting up a nail-biter finish.
The Sharks were unable to score, and were forced to foul Cadee, who made two more free-throws.
Braswell had a chance to send the game to an extra period but his long-range attempt was no good as the Sharks drop to 9-5 and could drop to third if they lose tomorrow to the league-leading Bay Hawks.
Braswell had a game-high 36 points on 35 shot attempts, while Conklin added 24 and Martin chipped in with 17.
Tai Wesley was the only other Shark to reach double digits with 10, but fouled out in 13 minutes.
The Rangers move to 7-9, but at this point would need results to go their way if they have a chance of the playoffs, especially after the Nelson Giants defeated the Otago Nuggets 108-79.
After struggling in the past two losses, it was only a matter of time before Josh Pace would blow up for a big one and tonight it was at the expense of the Nuggets, tallying 30 points and 10 rebounds in what will probably be a player of the week performance.
Jamal Boykin had 23 points, Phill Jones hit 5/8 on threes for 17 points, and Mika Vukona had 11 points and eight rebounds for the Giants, who move ahead of the Pistons to fourth with a 9-7 record.
It was going to be an extremely difficult task for the Nuggets who were missing starters Brendon Polyblank (broken nose) and Micah Lepaio (ankle).
Nelson started strong, leading 36-16 after the opening period, and extended their lead to as many as 32.
Warren Carter had 29 points and Brandon Bowdry had 24, but shot 7/21 from the field, for the Nuggets.
Mark Dickel again played 40 minutes, and had a stat-line of 14 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Nuggets, who drop to 7-8.
Tomorrow the Waikato Pistons (8-6) will try to move back up to the top-four when they host the Canterbury Rams (3-11).
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