Melbourne too good for Adelaide
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Melbourne United survived a late scare and snapped their National Basketball League season duck with a 98-87 victory over the Adelaide 36ers on Friday night.
Piloted by Tai Wesley (18 points) and Todd Blanchfield (17), Melbourne exploded with a dominant 32-17 second term and led by as many as 24 points late in the third quarter in Adelaide.
With skipper Mitch Creek exiting the match with a leg injury sustained in the first quarter and star guard Jerome Randle (20 points) fouling out late, Nathan Sobey provided much-needed spark off the bench for the home side, helping peg the gap back to five points near the death.
But they weren't able to overhaul those final buckets and slipped to a 1-2 record.
United led by one point after a see-sawing opening stanza before blitzing Adelaide in the second, with Blanchfield catching fire from the perimeter and Wesley proving a powerhouse in the paint
After a tough first half - on the back of sustained shooting ails in the opening round - Chris Goulding finally found his range, while Wesley demonstrated a nice outside stroke to go with his inside game, as Melbourne worked out to 80-56 late in the third.
While United fired on all cylinders, Adelaide's offence repeatedly spluttered with poor shot options and consistent turnovers proving costly before Sobey and Ferguson did their best to conjure a last-ditch miracle.
Five points down inside the final 30 seconds, Daniel Johnson fluffed two late chances to steal the unlikeliest of wins and Melbourne iced it from the stripe through Goulding.
Adelaide coach Joey Wright took some heart from the Sixers' fierce fourth-quarter fightback even though the damage was already done.
"It's great that we came back ... we knew if we played like that from the beginning we'd be successful. But we didn't.
"They controlled the tempo in our own gym which was disappointing."
Melbourne coach Dean Demopoulos said United must improve their ability to close out opposition fourth-quarter comebacks, after his side's 24-point third-quarter lead was whittled to just five points inside the last minute.
"Obviously we'd like to do better," he said
"Basketball is a game of runs and every team is going to get them.
"We could do a better job of closing that quarter out."
MELBOURNE 98 (Wesley 18, Blanchfield 17)
ADELAIDE 87 (Randle 20, Sobey 15)