Casper Ware's career-best masterclass single-handedly launched the Sydney Kings to an 89-84 victory over the Cairns Taipans at Qudos Bank Arena and back into the NBL's top four.
Ware was ablaze early and irresistible late on Saturday in smoking 40 points, the best haul of his outstanding career and the NBL's highest individual tally this season.
The superstar American point guard drained four three-pointers inside the first five minutes to spark the Kings' 23-5 headstart and three treys in as many minutes in the fourth term to bail the hosts out of trouble, after they fell behind by six points.
"I'm proud now but pretty angry at the time when we blew an 18-point lead," Sydney coach Adam Forde said.
"(It was) remarkable that he (Ware) was able to bail us out of some pretty average offences.
"Massive ... we needed it."
Cam Oliver (27 points, 19 rebounds) posted his fifth successive double-double to spearhead the Taipans' ferocious fightback.
Jordan Ngatai (14 points) drilled four triples while import Scott Machado (14) was solid despite clearly lowering his colours in the marquee match-up with Ware.
Restricted to just two points against South East Melbourne last Thursday, Ware torched the Snakes early with 18 first-quarter points, guiding Sydney to a 27-12 buffer at the first break.
Oliver and Machado got to work in the second stanza, piloting a 10-0 run and closing the gap to five points before Ware again got motoring to make it 49-38 at half-time.
Ngatai caught fire from the perimeter in a 21-4 burst as the Taipans, incredibly, stole the lead, prompting a paint-stripping time-out spray from Forde, who eyeballed his charges and asked: "You want to go home? You want to wrap it up?"
From being deadlocked at 69-all at three-quarter-time, Cairns moved ahead 75-69 before Ware had the final say, shaking off a late corky to personally outscore the Taipans 14-7 over the next six minutes.
"Our defence was horrible, we were bad on offence, didn't execute and we paid the price for that," Cairns coach Mike Kelly said of his team's diabolical start.
"I didn't think we started with the energy needed to be an NBL team.
"But I was happy the guys fought back really hard in the second half."
Australian Associated Press