The Sydney Kings were below their best but they did enough to extend a winning streak to 12 games in a row after grinding out a 76-70 victory over the New Zealand Breakers at Bendigo Stadium.
The Kings, the hottest team in the NBL, endured some cold spurts on Tuesday night and were outplayed in the first and third quarters, forced to win ugly against the brave but bottom-placed Breakers, who have now lost eight straight matches.
Sydney's MVP candidate Jaylen Adams (19 points, six rebounds, five assists) missed 11 of his first 12 shots but came good when it mattered, drilling a long trey with 70 seconds remaining to see off the plucky challenge of the Breakers, who had closed to within four points.
"They (Breakers) did a great job on their switches which really stagnated us," Sydney coach Chase Buford said.
"We got really sticky with the basketball and that's never a good way to attack that coverage.
"Proud to get a win when we weren't at our best."
Adam's backcourt partner Dejan Vasiljevic (16 points, six boards) hit some crucial shots, while at the other end, NZ's frontcourt duo of Yanni Wetzell (22,14) and Finn Delany (18, five) paced the Breakers' charge.
The Kings, unsettled by the Breakers' switching defence early, missed their first eight shots and trailed 20-17 at quarter-time before dominating the second term 24-10 to push ahead by 11 at halftime.
The momentum swung again as Sydney conceded the first eight points of the third stanza and with Wetzell dictating in the paint, NZ closed the gap to 58-53 at three-quarter-time.
Wetzell carried the Breakers' hopes in the fourth period and Delany followed a steal-and-dunk with his fourth three-pointer to trim the Kings' lead to 72-68 before Adams, who finally found his stroke late in the third after a largely off-target night, hit the most important one down the stretch.
"It goes without saying that was one of our better games defensively," NZ coach Dan Shamir said.
"We stopped them getting a lot of fast-break points and this (Sydney) is the fastest team in the league.
"Maybe we could have created more cuts for Yanni and settled less for threes.
"We didn't turn the ball over and created good shots but didn't really make them."