Melbourne win seven straight, down 36ers

Fraser Barton |

Melbourne United have romped their way to a seventh consecutive win in the NBL, beating the Adelaide 36ers 97-78 on the road.

Facing a 17-9 deficit early in the first quarter, United (7-2) went on a 17-7 run to take a two-point lead into the first break, and they never trailed again in the game.

The second-best three-point shooting club in the competition stuck to their guns, finishing 38 per cent from beyond the arc from their 38 attempts, with sharpshooter Chris Goulding bagging six of his own.

The United star finished with 18 points on 6 of 15 shooting, while teammate Jo Lual-Acuil had 18 of his own and eight boards.

Dean Vickerman’s side were relentless again on the defensive end, scoring 19 points off turnovers and 14 in transition while also forcing the 36ers into 13 turnovers.

United’s depth was on full show at the Adelaide Entertainment Centre on Saturday as their bench provided 40 points to see the club register their highest scoring total of the season.

Their 19-point victory also giving NBL veteran David Barlow a win in his 350th career game.

Melbourne’s ball retention, ball movement and low turnovers saw six players finish in double figures, with Next Star Ariel Hukporti having his best outing yet finishing with 12 points and eight rebounds off the pine.

“I thought the lob that he (Hukporti) caught was ridiculous,” Vickerman said of Hukporti’s alley-oop dunk in the fourth quarter.

“And he can do some amazing things. So fast.

“It’s one of the traits of him – he just continues to run both ways. NBA teams have to look at that and say that’s an absolute elite skill that I think we can use.”

36ers coach CJ Bruton said the game shifted when he went to different rotations but Melbourne’s class was on full display.

“Clearly they’re a very talented team and they execute very well,” he said.

“They’ve done an amazing job obviously from the time that we started together pre-season, keeping that group together and healthy and able to contribute and play, manage loads and minutes throughout from pre-season to now.

“Experience-wise played well. They execute well. They’re well coached.”