The Sydney Kings have found their best form of the NBL season after surviving a second-half challenge from lowly Cairns to claim a thrilling 75-53 victory.
The Taipans had upset the Kings twice already this season and were on their way to making it three times when they fought back from an 11-point deficit to claim a shock fourth-quarter lead on Sunday.
However, the home side refused to buckle, putting the clamps on the visitors in the clutch and preventing Cairns from hitting a field goal in the final three minutes.
The Taipans had one chance to at least force overtime on the final possession but failed to put up a shot, ensuring Adam Forde's side claimed their first three-game winning streak of the season.
Last year's grand finalists remain in sixth spot, but are well within striking distance of the top four.
"There's a bit of a log-jam, especially at the top of the ladder ... we're trying to hit our momentum now, especially with the home games that we've got coming up," Forde said.
"This is a fork in the road moment in the sense that we can either continue our form and rise, or we stay this win-one, lose-one and we miss finals."
American duo Casper Ware and Jarell Martin paced Sydney with 16 points apiece, while rookie Dejan Vasiljevic and veteran Daniel Kickert chipped in 11 points each.
Eight of Kickert's points came in a valuable fourth-quarter cameo, when the Taipans, led by Scott Machado's game-high 21 points, were threatening to pull away.
The electrifying finish was soured by a suspected right lower leg injury for star import Didi Louzada, however Forde said he could've returned down the stretch.
The defeat for the Taipans was their eighth in their past nine, and was compounded by an awkward leg injury to forward Kouat Noi, who left the court on crutches.
They remain in last spot with just four wins so far this season.
"We did make some strides forward today," Taipans coach Mike Kelly said.
"We did have some defensive possessions today where we were really good. So we build on those and try to fix it on the offensive end and be cleaner."