Melbourne star Chris Goulding led his side with 19 points and import Shawn Long struggled to knock down his shots but still battled hard inside finishing with 16 points and 14 rebounds.
Goulding’s three cut the lead to 90-80 with two minutes to play but Cairns made their free throws to remain in the lead.
Melbourne import Casey Prather returned from back spasms to post 11 points and five rebounds in just under 20 minutes.
Majok Deng (15 points) had Melbourne’s defence in trouble early as he posted nine points and forced David Barlow to the bench with two fouls.
But Melbourne’s offensive rebounding and some smart play from Melo Trimble and Mitch McCarron made sure their side was up 26-20 at quarter time.
Trimble’s three early in the second quarter put the visitors up nine points and in position to run away with the contest but Melbourne couldn’t capitalise any further and the Taipans battled up to lead 47-44 at half-time.
Oliver told NBL courtside reporter Cam Tragardh he needed to wake up in the second half andcertainly did that, making use of his athleticism and power around the basket to extend his tally out to 17 points and 10 rebounds.
That energy from Oliver saw the Taipans go on a 12-0 run and take their lead to double figures leading 69-57 at three-quarter time.
The Taipans kept scoring in the last as Machado started to find his own shot but two three-pointers from Tohi Smith-Milner kept them in touch. Goulding’s shooting threatened to make for a tight finish but Cairns held steady.
Melbourne United play Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney on Sunday at 3pm.
Roy Ward is a Sports writer for The Age.