The three-time defending NBL champion Breakers had lost in Townsville on Friday night to start off the Sunshine Swing weekend and then had a chance to snatch victory in Cairns on Saturday, but Bruton's open three-point attempt didn’t fall and the Taipans held on to win 86-85.
Saturday night's other match saw the Adelaide 36ers open its 2013/14 account with a hard fought 97-91 victory over the Wollongong Hawks at Adelaide Arena.
It was always going to be a testing road trip for the triple-champion Breakers starting with a Townsville team looking for its first win of the season, and the Crocs prevailed 94-84 on Friday before New Zealand had to hop on a Saturday morning flight to Cairns.
Awaiting was a Taipans team coming off a win to open their season against the Crocs last weekend and it was the Snakes who were on top against the Breakers most of the night at the Cairns Convention Centre.
Cairns led by as much as eight points during the first period, but the Breakers fought back well to tie scores up at 43-apiece at half-time.
The Taipans again assumed control after half-time, though, and opened up an eight-point advantage with five and-a-half minutes remaining in the game.
However, New Zealand was not done with yet and the 37-year-old Bruton nailed a three to make the margin just five again, and then when both Mika Vukona and Kerron Johnson scored the Breakers were suddenly within a point with over four minutes still to go.
Cairns held firm, though and did not concede the lead, but an unsportsmanlike foul call on an inbounds pass was called on Taipans point guard Jamar Wilson and Bruton coolly hit the two free-throws with 48 seconds remaining with the home side leading 86-85.
The Taipans were unable to score when getting possession back and then Bruton missed a triple for the Breakers before in the final 10 seconds Cairns missed two attempts to stretch their lead from one to three points.
New Zealand got the ball back for one final chance and point guard Johnson pushed the ball and got into the paint to dish it out to an open Bruton beyond the three-point line, but the shot just rimmed out and the Taipans held on for the one-point victory.
The results means that Cairns remains unbeaten after two matches this season as the Taipans look to become a genuine championship threat while the Breakers slip to a 1-2 record ahead of a grand final rematch on Thursday in Auckland against the Perth Wildcats.
The Taipans were impressive again and dominated the rebounding count against the Breakers with 40 to 24.
Sharpshooter Cameron Gliddon was outstanding with 24 points, four rebounds and four assists on the back of a superb 9-of-11 shooting from the field and 2-of-3 from beyond the three-point line.
Import guard Demetri McCarney hit three from beyond the arc despite shooting just 5-of-14 from the field as he finished with 17 points while fellow guard Wilson had just five points, five assists and four rebounds while also finishing minus some teeth despite receiving a warning for flopping.
Cam Tragardh worked hard inside for 13 points and six rebounds while shooting strongly with 6-of-8 from the field. Stephen Weigh also had 10 points and six boards in just his second game for Cairns after previous stints for the Perth Wildcats and Adelaide 36ers.
Bruton might have missed the game-winning shot, but he is one of the all-time greats of the NBL and after sitting out the game in Townsville on Friday, had a good game against Cairns with 15 points on 4-of-8 shooting – all three-point attempts.
Point guard Johnson was impressive with 18 points, five assists and three steals with Vukona adding 16 points and Tom Abercrombie 11.
Meanwhile, at the Adelaide Arena a crowd of 5815 turned out to see Adelaide and Wollongong both hunt for a first win of the season and it was the 36ers who prevailed in a tight contest by six points.
Wollongong started the game on fire, led by Larry Davidson with nine points in just over four minutes, as the Hawks led early by eight points in the first period and still by four at half-time.
Adelaide guards Adam Gibson and Gary Ervin then led the fight back during the third quarter and the Sixers were suddenly up by eight points by three quarter-time.
That stretched to as much as 10 during the final period, but Wollongong refused to lie down showing the fight that has been the hallmark of the team with Gordie McLeod as its coach.
The Hawks had closed to within four points with just over a minute remaining before an unsportsmanlike foul was called on Davidson on Adelaide import Jarrid Frye.
However, Frye made just the one at the line and then Anthony Petrie missed a triple attempt before Davidson added two more points for Wollongong to make the margin just three with 37 seconds left.
The Hawks needed to put the Sixers to the line to be any chance of reeling in the deficit, though, over the last 30 seconds and their former league MVP Ervin got the job done at the charity stripe going 6-of-6 when it mattered to lead the 36ers to the six-point victory.
Ervin was outstanding for the 36ers with 24 points and five assists, including 4-of-7 from three-point range, with Frye scoring 15 points, Mitch Creek 14, Jason Cadee 11, Daniel Johnson 11 and Gibson 10 to go with seven assists.
Eight Wollongong players scored six points or more in the end led by 16 from centre Davidson who also had eight rebounds and four steals.
Debutant import Kevin Tiggs looked good for 14 points with Tyson Demos finishing with 13, Tim Coenraad 13, Rotnei Clarke 12, Rhys Martin nine, Oscar Forman eight and Dave Gruber six.
Round 2 of the NBL season will conclude on Sunday with the Melbourne Tigers hosting the Perth Wildcats at The Cage.