Hungry Jack's NBL
Long, Griffin Shine but United Win in CG43's 300th
Shawn Long took flight, Eric Griffin did too but Melbourne United had too many weapons in a 112-90 win over the Adelaide 36ers on Saturday at Melbourne Arena.
The game had intrigue written all over it coming into the contest with Melbourne's six-game winning streak ending with two tough road losses last weekend, meanwhile the 36ers had a big road win in Perth last Sunday and their season has been gathering momentum.
Throw in the fact that Melbourne captain Chris Goulding was celebrating NBL appearance 300 and the 2018 Grand Final rematch was always going to have plenty going for it, and certainly didn’t fail to deliver.
It saw the two import big men on either side have career-best nights in the NBL as Melbourne's Shawn Long and Adelaide's Eric Griffin combined for 68 points, 24 rebounds and six blocked shots.
That made the game quite the spectacle, but in the end Long had far more help from his United teammates than Griffin did from his Sixers counterparts, and the home team led all night and by as much as 22 points which was the final margin after a Casey Prather triple.
Long and Griffin both have NBA resumes and elite level leaping abilities and they put them on show in Saturday’s game as both posted 34-point performances while trading dunks and blocks.
But Long’s teammates proved the difference as Melbourne looked to make sure Goulding could enjoy his 300th NBL game with a big win.
They did it in resounding fashion taking a 33-17 lead into quarter-time and holding off the Sixers who repeatedly launched comebacks but couldn’t overcome them.
In the final term Long, Melo Trimble (20 points) and Casey Prather (17 points) made sure their side would claim the win and a nice percentage bump with Prather showing his recovery from injury is complete with a flying one-handed dunk in punctuate the win.
Long's final stat-line was 34 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks while Griffin had 34 points, nine rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman praised Long for his effort levels.
"Shawn played an unbelievable game," Vickerman said.
"He really controlled his emotions well throughout, he was consistent through the game and gave us the variety with his post moves.
"The boys were good. They kept getting him touches but the thing we talked about today was his effort levels. Be the best rebounder in the league, make sure 20-30 per cent of your offence is you running lanes and getting offensive rebounds."
Sixers coach Joey Wright said his side’s rebounding and effort wasn’t good enough.
"They just beat us in every facet," Wright said.
"They had a lot more energy, they were hungrier than us, they had all the 50-50 balls and dominated us on the boards which was one of the keys for us.
"They take a lot of long shots and we wanted to try to make sure we rebounded those balls but we didn’t. Long had eight offensive rebounds, we only had 12 as a team."
From an Adelaide point of view, they would be frustrated not to take greater advantage of the dominant performance of Griffin who only ended up taking 14 shots of which he made 11, including 4/6 from the land of plenty.
Former league MVP Jerome Randle added 15 of his 17 points after half-time for the 36ers while co-captain Brendan Teys had 16 points to continue his rich of vein of form since entering the starting five.
Melbourne now prepares for another blockbuster showdown with the league-leading Kings at Melbourne Arena next Saturday while Adelaide is back at Adelaide Entertainment Centre hosting South East Melbourne Phoenix on Friday.
NBL ROUND 10
MELBOURNE UNITED 112 (Long 34, Trimble 20, Prather 17)
ADELAIDE 36ERS 90 (Griffin 34, Randle 17, Teys 16)