NBL 2014/15 Round 11: Melbourne sneaks back into top four after overtime win

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Despite a spirited effort without Josh Childress, the Sydney Kings have gone down to Melbourne United, who needed overtime for the second consecutive game before prevailing 105-101. The victory has moved United back above the Kings on the ladder, two wins clear in fourth place.

Childress, the league’s second leading scorer, was a late omission due to a hamstring injury. It is not expected to keep him out for too long but precautionary measures kept him from suiting up against United.

The home side led by as much as 13 points in the third quarter but an inspirational team effort saw Sydney pull themselves back into the contest. A three point play from Kendrick Perry (13 points) early in the final term gave the Kings their first lead of the second half before a back-and-forth affair emerged.

Tom Garlepp was cool from the free throw line, knocking in four clutch shots in the final 49 seconds. Then, with three points the margin, Daniel Kickert pump faked Josh Duinker before nailing a game-tying three pointer with 10 seconds remaining. On the final play, Jason Cadee was unable to score or draw a foul, sending the match into overtime.

As they had done against Wollongong on Friday night, Melbourne controlled the extra period, with Mark Worthington grabbing two important offensive rebounds. One of those led to a Jordan McRae three, which pushed the lead to six and beyond Sydney’s grasp.

After the match, Worthington had two words for Melbourne’s mindset in overtime.

Grab rebounds. Rebounding hasn’t been a bright spot this year but to come up with a few in a row, I felt changed the momentum.

The crowd were treated to a scintillating offensive display from the opening tip as both sides went unconscious from beyond the arc. They combined for 15-27 three point shooting in the first half, with Jason Cadee proving to have the hot hand.

Getting the start in place of Childress, Cadee hit four three pointer’s in the first term and while Sydney average just five makes per game from beyond the arc this season, they had six by the first break.

The thrilling pace continued into the second quarter, with Ben Madgen joining in the festivities alongside Cadee. He hit a perfect 4-4 from the three point line by half-time as both teams were shooting well above 50%.

Melbourne held onto a 2 point lead however, using transition offence to score some easy baskets. They double-teamed the ball carrier to great effect, upsetting Cadee’s rhythm and in the open court, McRae raced to 13 points.

United Coach Darryl McDonald was wary of the Kings when he heard Childress would not be playing.

It is games like this that you get nervous about. You see Childress is not playing and we just think we’re going to run over them. Not in this league.

The home side finally took advantage of the Childress-less Kings after half-time, starting the third term with a 15-4 run. Using a combination of crisp perimeter passing and pump fakes to open up the lanes, United looked to have the game wrapped up with their game high margin. Off the bench, Cody Ellis (11 points) and Duinker (11 and 8 rebounds) brought the Kings back into the contest though, before Perry’s three point play gave the visitors new life in the final term.

Sydney’s reliance on Childress has been a concern all season but the silver lining from this loss is the fight they showed without their star import. Madgen nailed 6-9 from downtown for 22 points and 7 rebounds, Cadee hit 5-9 for 21 and 6 assists while Garlepp (15 points) hit 9-10 from the free throw line.

Sydney Coach Damian Cotter was optimistic about the first half of the year, despite the Kings sitting outside the top four.

We wanted to be around 50-50 by Christmas. We’ve shown competitive vigour against the best sides, so we’re close to where we want to be.

Melbourne will not be pleased they needed overtime to defeat their opposition for a second consecutive game but their play in the extra period proved to be a class above. McRae (30 points) shot 12-19 from the field to reach 30 for the third time this season while Kickert hit 9-14 for 22 points. Worthington played 37 minutes, recording 16 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks and David Barlow collected 11 points.

Both sides face challenges next round, with Sydney to host the ladder leading Breakers on Friday night while United have a week off to prepare for Perth next Sunday.

Melbourne United 105 (McRae 30, Kickert 22, Worthington 16)

Sydney Kings 101 (Madgen 22, Cadee 21, Garlepp 15)

@ Margaret Court Arena