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Wildcats claim OT NBL win over Taipans

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Perth Wildcats claimed an 84-74 overtime win against the Cairns Taipans on Saturday night to avoid a second straight loss to start their title defence.

Jaron Johnson bought the Perth Arena crowd to their feet when he dropped a three-point shot to tie the scores with just 0.80 seconds remaining in the game.

Just 17.1 seconds earlier, Johnson had those same fans holding their heads in disbelief after he turned the ball over when the Cats trailed by one point and looked to have blown their chance of victory.

That three pointer was Johnson's 13th in a massive personal final quarter after the Taipans had led by as many as six in the same period. He finished the game's highest scorer, with 26, while Casey Prather scored 23.

The Taipans managed only four points in the overtime period.

The Wildcats produced an almost carbon copy of Thursday's away loss to the Brisbane Bullets in the season opener.

They got out to an early lead (14 points) against the Taipans, just like they did against the Bullets - only to let their opposition back in the game after the main break.

Only this time, they managed to find a way to win. Perth coach Trevor Gleeson must have let out a massive sigh of relief after the game, having given away a technical foul and a subsequent one point to the Taipans Cameron Gliddon during the fourth quarter.

The margin then was two points in favour of the visitors.

Gliddon was terrific in the Cairns comeback, adding 10 points of his own in the fourth quarter and 20 for the game.

The Taipans didn't help themselves in the first half though, with inaccurate shooting.

After scoring the first four points of the contest, they managed only eight for the opening quarter. They shot a disappointing 17 per cent from the field, with none of their seven attempts from three-point range dropping.

Cairns also got itself into foul trouble late in the period, but while the Cats couldn't make the most of their gifts from the free-throw line (six from 11), they still led by 11 points at the first break.

That lead was reduced to just eight by half-time, despite the Taipans still struggling in offense.

Prather and Jameel McKay threatened to blow the game apart for the home side early in the second quarter, the beneficiaries of some typically dogged Damian Martin defence - and the lead got out to 14.

New Wildcats US import Jaron Johnson couldn't say if the match-tying shot was the biggest he has ever hit, but admits it's in his top five.

"It's probably ... right up there," he said. "I want to be the type of player that can be put into that position to shoot like take.

"Coach wrote the play. I had had a turnover just previous to that so I was feeling kind of bad about it, but my teammates were there to pick me up.

Cairns coach Aaron Fearne said he was disappointed that they let the win go.

"We lacked some discipline on what we're doing," he said. "I'm disappointed we didn't stay aggressive. We had been playing very aggressive in the pre-season and came out tonight tentative; very on the back foot.

"We let them control us, instead of us controlling the game.

"And then obviously we broke down on that last play when they hit the three."

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