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NBL 2014/15 Round 2: McRae, United Cool Off New Zealand Breakers
Photo Credit: Melbourne United
New Zealand came into Hisense Arena hoping to build on their good form against Melbourne United, a team whose head coach resigned after only one game. Instead, it was United who looked like they were the team who had been on form to begin 2014/2015.
Both teams started of struggling to put the ball through the net. It took until the 8:12 mark of the first quarter for Nate Tomlinson to finally break his streak of 0-14 field goals with a two point shot, and get the game underway.
Melbourne started to find their feet though, managing to make just under half of their shots in first period and finished the game with a field goal percentage of 46%. They didn't look like they were suffering from a coaching change, finding open players and playing great team basketball by swinging the ball until the Breakers defense missed a beat.
The Breakers took a little while longer to get into their rhythm, but even when they started to make shots, they had no answer for Melbourne's offense. Apart from their 0-1 lead to start the game off of an Abercrombie free throw, they never held a lead and never looked like they deserved one.
They ran iso heavy offense on a team that has the weapons to move the ball around the floor, while United penetrated and found open men. They put the ball into their scorers hands at times and asked them to go to work, which is acceptable when you're up by 20+ points.
United out rebounded the Breakers 38-37, which didn't really tell the story of the Breakers rebounding woes. Cedric Jackson, who had 9 rebounds, had the most boards on the team, while their starting 4 and 5 combo of Mika Vukona and Ekene Ibekwe combined for a total of 7. Without Jackson's hustle, things could have gotten even more out of control for NZ.
Daniel Kickert was unstoppable before the halftime break - scoring 19pts on 7-10 shooting including 4-5 from three-point-land - and even grabbed a couple of boards. He was a no-show in the second half, but it wasn't an issue when Jordan McRae ended up scoring 31 points on 18 shots, just shy of a double double with 9 boards. He got to the line consistently and sunk all but one of his 12 free throws.
Corey Webster was the Breakers greatest contributor with 21 points but did so quite inefficiently on 18 shots and grabbed a few boards. However, on a night where the Breakers only won one quarter of basketball, it didn't offer much consolation. He was only one of two Breakers in double figures, the other being Alex Pledger contributed 13 to the total.
United will take the victory and look to get their season underway - even without a full time coach locked in - while the Breakers will have to take a look where it went wrong and how they'll make sure it doesn't happen again.
Melbourne United 95 (McRae 31, Worthington 20, Kickert 19)
New Zealand Breakers 74 (Webster 21, Pledger 13, Abercrombie 9)
@ Hisense Arena