South East Melbourne have overcome the loss of unlucky forward Craig Moller to another serious knee injury, finishing strongly to post a 90-79 NBL win over the New Zealand Breakers.
Mitch Creek fired a personal season-high 26 points as the Phoenix returned to action at John Cain Arena on Saturday after the FIBA break, improving their season record to 7-6.
But the home side's celebrations were tempered after starting forward Moller hurt his right knee during the first quarter and had to be helped off the court.
He played no further part, finishing the evening on crutches, and will be sent for scans on Sunday to determine the extent of the damage.
The 29-year-old cross-code athlete, who played one AFL match for Fremantle before turning to pro basketball, was previously sidelined for almost 18 months after shattering his left kneecap during an April 2022 game in Germany.
"It was the other knee. I don't know the extent of it ... but it was more serious than just a knee knock," Phoenix coach Mike Kelly said of Moller's fresh setback.
"He was probably more positive than I was as he was getting out of here, but we'll see. I know he'll attack it really well.
"He's already in the thought process of, 'How do I get this better?'. So he's good, but it's tough.
"Basketball-wise, we'll figure out a way. We've got a good group, but we'll just miss him being around it every day for the next however long it is."
Three days after he was ejected for remonstrating with officials during a win over the Adelaide 36ers, Breakers coach Mody Maor again had his blood boiling with his side on the wrong side of the whistle early in Melbourne.
There were frustrations for the visitors as starters Parker Jackson-Cartwright and Finn Delany both racked up three fouls before halftime, though the New Zealanders led 45-41 at the main break.
The advantage swelled to six points during the third period before Creek helped wrest control for the Phoenix, producing his game-high points tally on 10-of-15 shooting.
Star import Alan Williams (10 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists) was also influential and Will Cummings (15 points) provided punch off the bench.
New Zealand (4-8) shot at just 26 per cent from behind the arc.
Izayah Le'afa (17 points) continued his good form off the bench for the Kiwis, while Anthony Lamb (14 points, seven rebounds) and Jackson-Cartwright (14 points, seven assists) were busy.
South East Melbourne led by one point at three-quarter time and restricted the visitors to their lowest final-period score of the season, winning the fourth 24-14.
"We ran out of gas," Maor said.
"There have been losses this year that I have been very angry about, where we didn't play the way we wanted to play, you didn't see our identity and you didn't see us connected - but this isn't one of them.
"We played hard, our guys competed and we did things the right way."