While the win meant little for the league-leading Breakers aside from eliminating any outside chance of them not finishing the regular season as minor premiers, the loss for Melbourne takes the Tigers from third to fifth spot on the ladder with two weeks remaining.
Melbourne's loss now means that Wollongong (11-15), Sydney (11-15), the Tigers (10-14), Cairns (10-15) and Townsville (9-16) remain alive in the race for third and fourth spot come finals time.
Making the last fortnight of the regular season even more exciting is the fact that those teams in the race all play one another so all matches featuring them in the run home is a virtual cut-throat encounter.
Next week alone, Wollongong plays Sydney in an elimination contest at the WIN Entertainment Centre on Friday with Cairns needing to win both its matches against Adelaide and Perth while Townsville must beat Melbourne to stay alive.
The Tigers have four games over the last fortnight of the season and will need to win at least two of them to guarantee a finals berth.
Their big finish begins on Thursday at the North Shore Events Centre in Auckland against New Zealand before taking on the Crocs in Townsville on Sunday, and then Cairns and the Crocodiles again the following weekend.
Basically whichever two teams out of the Hawks, Kings, Tigers, Taipans and Crocs win at least two games over the last two weeks will play finals. Any loss for any of those sides could cost them a finals appearance. The Tigers are the only ones who can afford to drop a game along the way.
On Sunday at Hisense Arena, the Tigers were always up against it not only by taking on the two-time defending champion Breakers who arrived with a 15-game winning streak, but Melbourne was also without star point guard Jonny Flynn due to a foot injury and import big man Seth Scott struggled with a back complaint.
The Breakers then took full advantage of that opening up a 14-point half-time advantage and then their lead increased to 21 in the third quarter before the Tigers staged a dramatic final stanza comeback.
That saw Melbourne level scores at 72-72 after two free-throws from Chris Goulding with four and-a-half minutes remaining in the game, but Alex Pledger, Mika Vukona and Daryl Corletto all iced the game for the Breakers as they won their 16th straight match to improve to a 23-3 record.
Former Tiger Corletto scored 20 points to lead the way for New Zealand with point guard Cedric Jackson adding 13 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals.
Corey Webster scored an equal career-high 14 points with Pledger adding 11 points to go with 11 rebounds, and Vukona 11 points as well in the five-point victory.
Goulding top-scored for the Tigers with 23 points with Matt Burston adding 16 to go with nine rebounds with Scott limited to just nine minutes and three points.
Nate Tomlinson racked up nine assists in the absence of Flynn with Tommy Greer and Lucas Walker both scoring eight points each.
Tigers coach Chris Anstey was pleased with the fight shown from his group to get back into the contest, but knows it's unacceptable to let New Zealand get so far in front in the first place.
"They showed in that one quarter why they’re a hell of a basketball team," Anstey said.
"That was the difference in the game. The floodgates were open and most of their points came in transition."