Nuggets lose fourth on the trot

The Manawatū Jets kept their campaign alive with a tense 99-94 win against the Otago Nuggets in Palmerston North last night.

Import Daniel Pippen II starred with 31 points.

But the American forward was ably assisted by team-mates Javion Blake (22 points) and Mustapha Heron (19 points), while veteran forward Marcel Jones landed some critical baskets late in the game.

The win lifted the Jets to 4-8 and keeps their slim prospects of making the playoffs alive.

The Nuggets (7-4) started the season with seven consecutive wins but have slumped to four consecutive defeats.

They are still nicely placed, but will go into tonight's game against a form Wellington Saints side without star point guard JaQuori McLaughlin.

He has knee injury and has not made the trip north.

The loss was a big improvement on Monday's blowout 116-79 loss to the Southland Sharks.

Todd Withers (20 points) dropped in six three-pointers and Michael Harris added 22 points. He is still struggling to hit three-pointers, but used his speed to get to the cup.

Sam Timmins chipped in with 15 points and 10 rebounds. But he also turned the ball over seven times, which proved costly.

Darcy Knox (11 points) and Robbie Coman (14 points) put in decent shifts.

The Nuggets took just seconds to open the scoring. Timmins won the jump ball, tipping it to Withers who forced in the lay-up.

Coman hit a couple of early threes and nabbed a bucket under the rim. But the Jets did not miss a single shot in the opening six minutes.

The Nuggets countered by going inside. Timmins got a couple of baskets in close.

But, in the absence of McLaughlin, the turnovers started to mount.

The Jets grabbed a series of offensive boards as well and went into the break up 30-26.

The Jets drilled another couple of triples to stretch the lead to 10.

The home side was setting a blistering tempo.

Harris cut to the basket for a couple of buckets. His three-point radar has been on the blink, so he had to find another way to help the Nuggets grind their way back into the game.

Matthew Bardsley and Withers swished the ball from beyond the arc to help their side regain the lead.

But the Jets closed the quarter with three unanswered baskets to trim the gap to two at halftime.

Pippen banged in 12 points in the period.

Blake made a scorching pass to Pippen in one of the few highlights in the third.

The game had lost some shape.

But Withers slotted his fifth and sixth three-pointers late in the period to inject some quality back into the fixture.

The Jets nursed a 75-74 lead with 10 minutes to play.

The lead seemed to change every possession.

But back-to-back three-point buckets for the Jets and a dunk from Heron midway through the final period saw the lead blow out to seven points at a critical time.

The Nuggets tried to inch their way back by muscling in some baskets in the paint.

But Jones came up clutch in the final stretch. The 37-year-old came on when Joshua Leger fouled out and hit a mid-range jumper and three to help seal the win.