Melb United win eighth straight in NBL

Fraser Barton |

Melbourne United have continued their dominant form in the NBL, holding off a determined Brisbane Bullets outfit on the road 84-82.

In a see-sawing contest at Nissan Arena, United (8-2) had a chance to ice the game at the free throw line with seven seconds remaining through Jo Lual-Acuil, but the big man missed both shots giving Brisbane one last throw of the dice.

Lamar Patterson, who had a game-high 21 points and six rebounds, heaved forward to Nathan Sobey who’s acrobatic reverse layup didn’t fall, before teammate Anthony Drimic’s rebound and hook shot also missed to hand the visitors their eighth straight win.

Each team split the quarters two apiece, as the Bullets (4-5) began the game outscoring Melbourne 28-17 in the first, before going ice cold in the second.

United held the Bullets to just 12 points in the second period before momentum shifted in the third where the home side found their rhythm again. But that couldn’t stop the league’s best defensive team in the final 10 minutes, who did just enough to stay atop the ladder and send the strong Brisbane crowd home disappointed.

Nathan Sobey added 18 for the Bullets and Chinese international Chuanxing Liu had a strong outing.

But it was a blend of offensive and defensive excellence by United talisman Matthew Dellavedova who led the way with 16 points on 4 of 6 from three-point range, six rebounds and six assists.

The NBA champion in his first NBL season was all over Bullets star Sobey, while also combining well with teammate Jack White.

“Just the head he has for the game is incredible,” White said of Dellavedova following the win.

“He’s just so good at settling us at tough times and he’s like a coach on the floor – he’s a really great extension of Deano (coach Dean Vickerman).

“He’s just able to keep his poise and under control and come through in big moments.

“He’s a guy that you can depend on and you know that he’s going to have your back, and as a teammate, you can’t ask much more than that.”

For the hosts it was a chance gone begging to topple the NBL leaders, but coach James Duncan said their biggest hurdle to overcome is consistency.

“We’ve been progressing throughout the regular season, and we just haven’t been able to be consistent, it’s clear,” Duncan told reporters.

“And that’s our biggest hurdle – like it’s about us and trying to be consistent and do those things for each and every quarter.

“You need to be consistent to be able to make finals and do something in this league. Can’t fault our effort, but we need more.”