Adelaide made it four straight wins and perhaps slammed the door shut on Cairns' finals hopes with a 100-90 triumph in Thursday night's NBL clash.
Shannon Shorter (21 points) outmatched the Taipans' guards early, Ramone Moore (19) was terrific late and skipper Brendan Teys turned back the clock.
The 36ers draw level with Perth, Melbourne and New Zealand on the ladder, all with 12 wins.
Veteran Alex Loughton (19 points) and Boomer Mitch McCarron (18) were valiant for the Snakes who slumped to 9-13 and need something special to make the playoffs.
Adelaide made a sluggish start as Cairns led by seven points early, but the Sixers worked their way to a 30-22 lead at the end of a frenetic first term.
The opening quarter featured some sublime play from Shorter, a Matt Hodgson reverse jam from a bullet Moore feed and a double 'unsportsmanlike' on Jerry Evans Jnr and Majok Deng under Cairns' basket as tempers flared.
With the Taipans racking up the fouls, the Sixers' advantage swelled to 15 points after some mid-quarter Deng magic in the second before the visitors, through Loughton, sliced it back to eight again at halftime.
After beginning the third term in sloppy fashion and seeing their lead whittled down to three points, the 36ers went back out by 11 at the final break before starting the fourth in carbon copy shoddy fashion.
Scoochie Smith belatedly found some form but his flurry would be Cairns' last roll of the dice as Moore dragged Adelaide out of danger and to a seemingly certain finals berth.