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Dominant Taipans level series with Wildcats

The Cairns Taipans cut down two-time NBL MVP Bryce Cotton to level their semifinals series with an 85-74 win against the Perth Wildcats in Cairns on Sunday.

Cotton sank 42 points two days ago in Perth to grab the upper hand for the Wildcats in the best-of-three game Grand Final qualifying series.

As much as he tried, the import guard could not wriggle free of the hostile defence applied by the home side.

Doubled-teamed, Cotton was contained to 11 points, leaving the Wildcats scrambling for answers ahead of the series decider in Perth on Thursday.

It's one thing quietening a superstar, but the Taipans needed a spark at the offensive end and it came from centre Cam Oliver who delivered his 15th double-double of the season in the 11-point triumph.

Oliver's 22 points and 19 rebounds was emblematic of the hustle the Taipans took into what was for them a sudden death showdown.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself and I know I can handle it," Oliver said.

"We stayed composed. We didn't hang our heads after that first loss and we knew we'd come back home to a great crowd."

He had great support off the bench from another giant, Nate Jawai who had 12 points, most which came when the platform was laid in the first half.

The Cairns Convention Centre crowd revelled in the entertainment provided by opposing centres Oliver and Miles Plumlee.

Plumlee opened with two mighty dunks and a steal but it was Oliver who owned the quarter with 11 points, five rebounds and a block.

But for Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson, the Cotton conundrum will be front of mind going in to game three.

The Taipans pressured him out of the game and he had no points from just two shots at halftime.

Cairns stifled the reigning champions to just 31 points for the half as the home side took charge.

Wildcats guard Clint Steindl stepped up in the second half and finished with 18 points to make contest of the game.

Just as the margin shrank to seven points in the last quarter, Oliver, DJ Newbill and Scott

Machado produced steadying plays to keep the series alive.

"Cairns played like it was an elimination game. They came out firing and we weren't able to match up on court," Wildcats forward Nick Kay said.

"We needed to do it for 40 minutes but that wasn't the case tonight."