Mitch Creek missed a drive on the buzzer to allow Adelaide to pinch a pulsating 113-111 win over South East Melbourne at Adelaide Entertainment Centre.
Magnificent against his old side, Phoenix captain Creek (27 points, 11 rebounds) drove past Eric Griffin and flipped his shot over Daniel Johnson at the death, only to see it rim out.
The Phoenix had trailed by 10 points at three-quarter time before launching their comeback from the perimeter, nailing seven triples for the term to almost steal victory.
"I think the guys made their luck," said relieved Adelaide coach Joey Wright.
"We could have folded. They (Phoenix) hit 3-4 threes in a row and our guys just stood up at the end."
Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell praised his players' fight but lamented their execution in the clutch.
"We didn't play it as smart as we possibly could," Mitchell said.
"There were things we had control of that we didn't take advantage of.
"I'll never question the effort of our guys; they've just got to be a bit smarter, for longer."
Jerome Randle (26 points, eight assists) was superb on Friday night for the hosts who leapfrogged the Phoenix and Cairns into the top four.
Griffin (20 points, 10 boards) delighted with his high-flying theatrics and Harry Froling's 19 points in 15 minutes inspired the Sixers in the third quarter.
Sharpshooting Adelaide held sway 31-22 at quarter-time, thanks to Griffin and Anthony Drmic (nine points at 100 per cent).
With only John Roberson (22 points) firing a shot for the Phoenix early, Adelaide's advantage blew out to 38-26 before Creek took control.
He spearheaded a 13-2 flurry to help the visitors pinch the lead which the Sixers stole back late to lead 51-48 at halftime.
Creek scored South East Melbourne's first six points of the third before Roberson's long bomb gave the visitors the edge.
Randle produced successive three-point plays to put the 36ers back in front before Froling, who last Saturday had his desire questioned publicly by coach Wright, hammered home Adelaide's advantage.
In the last 3:24 of the quarter, Froling was in everything, copping a technical foul for taunting Keith Benson while rattling off 14 rapid-fire points, including a miraculous volleyball-style double-handed reverse scoop to make it 86-76.
With the match still in the balance in the last minute, Randle pocketed successive pull-up jumpers before Creek, who was called for a travel, caught Johnson napping defensively and scored an uncontested deuce with 15.8 seconds left to make it a one-point ball-game.
But after Adelaide's poor foul shooting opened a window, Creek couldn't quite nail the decisive blow.
Australian Associated Press