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NBL 2014/15 Round 20: United score first in weekend opener
After a horrendous couple of weeks, Melbourne United have once again tasted victory in what was a 91-88 victory over the Sydney Kings at the Qantas Credit Union Arena on Friday night.
Melbourne, who had been officially ruled out of playoff contention the week prior, grabbed at the opportunity to play for pride and even future contracts in an interesting contest which see these teams meet once more to end the season.
Daniel Kickert found a form which hadn't been seen for quite some time, with the centre grabbing nine rebounds (five offensive) to go with his 19 points. A pair of blocks clocked off arguably his best game for the club, as he showed much more than his long range shooting touch.
With the side without David Barlow and Owen Odigie, it was Daryl Corletto inserted into the starting line-up for United. His 13 points teamed up with captain Mark Worthington's 11 points to cap off an efficient night from the field for the visitors.
As the game kicked off at a frenetic pace which saw minimal defence being played, similar to that of the NBA All-Star game only days ago, it was Sydney's offensive prowess that gave them a six point advantage at the main break.
With the Kings without their two leading scorers for the season (Josh Childress and Ben Madgen), they were able to lean on guard Jason Cadee who had previously shown glimpses against Melbourne the last time the two teams met.
Finishing with 16 points, Cadee was able to rack most of those up early on with the help of Tom Garlepp playing facilitator.
Garlepp (22 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists) was everywhere for the Kings, and was able to control their lead throughout the second and third quarters just before Melbourne made their mark.
As United pushed through to lead by two at the final break, it was Lucas Walker and Jordan McRae who led the way. Walker managed 15 points and five rebounds before McRae, who had been in a shooting slump, found a way to get to the free throw line to keep the scoreboard ticking.
Despite positive efforts from Angus Brandt (16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks) and new to the starting line-up Daniel Joyce (15 points), the Kings couldn't quite push the boundaries and find a way to get over the line towards the conclusion of the game. Kendrick Perry also shone late with 12 points and six rebounds.
As mentioned, these two teams will now travel to Melbourne to meet again on Sunday at Hisense Arena to end their seasons.
Sydney Kings 88 (Garlepp 22, Cadee 16, Brandt 16)
Melbourne United 91 (Kickert 19, McRae 16, Walker 15)
@ Qantas Credit Union Arena