NBL 2014/15 Round 7: United continue rollercoaster season, upset Perth

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The perpetually inconsistent Melbourne United has put together their most consistent, complete performance for the season, defeating the ladder leading Perth Wildcats 91-76 at home.

All five Melbourne starters scored in double digits and United utilised an incredibly strong opening and final quarters to secure the upset.

It was essentially a disaster for Perth who was well down on their usual defensive performance. Arguably the best defensive team in the NBL, Perth simply had no answer for Melbourne’s scoring barrage.

Following a disappointing first half, Perth dug themselves a sizeable but manageable hole, down 9. However, they came out firing in the third, and found themselves within a single basket heading into the final quarter.

Then they put forth a performance that had Trevor Gleeson visibly frustrated, only managing a mere 11 points, whilst allowing Melbourne to run riot to the tune of 27 points. Game over.

Perth got a pair of strong performances from their big men in Shawn Redhage and Matthew Knight, the two combining for 36 points and 15 rebounds. Unfortunately, their dynamic duo of DeAndre Daniels and Jermaine Beal came up empty.

Beal almost laid a goose egg, scoring only 1 point on a ghastly 0-10 from the floor, including 0-5 from deep. Daniels was a little better, but not by much, managing 8 points and 12 rebounds, on an inefficient 3-19 from the floor, and 0-8 from down town.

The offensive inefficiency of their two imports was just too much to overcome for the Wildcats, as 34% from the field and 25% from three won’t cut it, especially when your defensive performance is sub-par.

Whilst Perth was well down on the standard they have previously set, this is to take nothing away from what Melbourne United did.

Melbourne’s offense looked impeccable, this was the perfect encapsulation of what the front office envisioned when they put together this talented squad in the off-season.

Imports Stephen Dennis and Jordan McRae led United in scoring with 17 and 21 points respectively, with Dennis particularly impressive, also posting 5 rebounds and 5 assists on 5-10 shooting.

United also got a typical captain’s performance from Mark Worthington, finishing with a line of 16-7-5 on 5-9 shooting. The match-ups between Worthington and Redhage have been a joy to watch for years, and this game was no different with both men posting quality performances.

As previously mentioned, United finally got a complete performance from its starting five and that includes David Barlow who has been nothing short of disappointing to commence the season. Barlow finally put together an efficient offensive performance, coupled with a strong defensive effort. His 10 points on 4-6 shooting is only his second double digit scoring performance of the season, with Melbourne hoping there are many more to come following this win.

Stretch five Daniel Kickert has been rolling as of late after a slow start to the year, having now posted double-digit scores in six of his past seven outings. Moreover, Kickert successfully backed up the best performance of his NBL career last week (24 points, 9-12 shooting) with a strong 14 points on 4-8 shooting and knocking down both his triples.

The win is some measure of revenge for their Round 5 loss to Perth, however, more importantly it actually moves Melbourne into the top four for the first time all season, and finally gets them to .500 record.

The loss moves Perth off the top of the table, taking their tally for the year to seven wins and three losses. It gets their two-game road trip off on the wrong foot, and they’ll be looking to bounce back against the out of form Cairns Taipans next week.

Melbourne will face the suddenly struggling Adelaide 36ers in a pivotal contest; one that they hope will get them above .500 and secure their spot within the top four.

Melbourne United 91 (McRae 21, Dennis 17, Worthington 16)

Perth Wildcats 76 (Redhage 18, Knight 18, Daniels 8)

@ Hisense Arena