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GAME REPORT

Phoenix Earn Redemption on Bullets in Brisbane

Take out a bit of a slow start and the Brisbane Bullets briefly catching fire to close the third quarter, the South East Melbourne Phoenix, inspired by Mitch Creek, delivered a commanding performance in Saturday night's 88-73 win.

After the Bullets hammered the rusty Phoenix 100-84 two weeks ago also at Nissan Arena, it was an eerily similar start with Brisbane leading 8-2 early on Saturday night, but this time it wouldn’t last.

With Mitch Creek on fire with 13 first quarter points and then 20 up to half-time, the Phoenix were in control for most of the contest.

That was until the Bullets closed the third period with an 11-0 run to make it a four-point ball game and to have all the momentum.

The Phoenix quickly snuffed that out and closed the game with 14 of the last 18 points while holding the Bullets to just six points the entire final term to claim the 15-point victory and improve to 6-2 on the season.

While South East Melbourne are offensively talented and that was on show putting up 88 points with Creek finishing with 22 on 9/13 shooting, Kyle Adnam 16, Xavier Munford 14 to go with five assists, Ryan Broekhoff 11 (seven rebounds, three steals) and Brandon Ashley nine (seven boards, two blocks), their defence stood out.

Take out Brisbane's eight early points and then 11 to close the third term and they only scored 54 in just about the other 35 minutes with Robert Franks scoring two points without a field goal made and Nathan Sobey just the nine points on 3/8 shooting.

"This is a game where we talked it down a little bit as just another game, but there was a little bit of personal pride involved because we didn’t think we gave the people of Brisbane a fair indication of what we are capable of last time," Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell said.

"I was really happy with the way we won this game. We might have had an opportunity to even push that lead out by more but what we want to pride ourselves on, and what we are trying to overcome in our growth, is that we could be a great shooting team and win, which is wonderful. 

"I'd love to see that happen all the time but we can't be a team that defends because we are shooting well. We need to be a team that can defend when we aren’t making shots. 

"That's the next step for us as a franchise and I thought tonight that despite we didn’t shoot particularly well from the perimeter, we were pretty efficient inside the arc and we defended loose balls, and deal with Brisbane coming down with pace. That's what we want to pride ourselves on and be known as."

Lamar Patterson did carry the offensive load, though, for Brisbane with 26 points and five assists while Deng Deng did a power of work for eight points and 11 rebounds.

The Bullets have now lost three straight and need to find a way to bounce back and improve on their 4-6 record to avoid slipping further from the top four race.

Brisbane coach James Duncan was disappointed above all else in his team's lack of focus and energy.

"That (defence) was one of the things that was disappointing as was our focus on the details and our purpose to try and stop people," Duncan said. 

"It wasn’t consistent enough which is what we've been dealing with. They were able to get a couple of shots that we talked about in the scout and walkthrough. The focus wasn’t there, it just wasn’t there. The energy wasn’t there and that hurt us."

It was a hot opening from the Bullets with a three ball to Lamar Patterson and then five quick points to returning big man Ty Harrison. The 8-2 lead was reminiscent of the 22-2 start for Brisbane two weeks ago in the same building against the same opponent.

However, this time the Phoenix were up for the challenge and were soon level after consecutive Mitch Creek three-point makes. Former Sixers teammates Nathan Sobey and Creek then traded and-one plays for their respective teams before Phoenix captain Kyle Adnam pulled his team on top.

He provided the instant spark with eight quick points and helped South East Melbourne to the 29-26 quarter-time lead with Creek putting up 13 points on a perfect 5/5 from the field.

Creek then went to 15 points to start the second quarter to stretch South East Melbourne's lead to five before he started a 6-0 run and the lead got out to double-figures. It turned into an 11-2 run as the lead got out to 14 before a Deng Deng three steadied things for the Bullets.

Creek ended up putting up 20 points for the half on 8/9 and then Adnam scored on the buzzer for the Phoenix to lead 50-39 by the major break despite 13 points for Brisbane from Patterson.

Ryan Broekhoff was then on fire to open the second half with nine quick points for the Phoenix to put the lead back out to 15 when he converted a three-point play.

Adnam and Creek then maintained a 15-point gap for the visitors, but Brisbane wasn’t done yet. Robert Franks scored his first points of the night at the foul line, Jason Cadee and Sobey hit threes, and Patterson scored down low.

They finished the third term on an 11-0 run and cut South East Melbourne's lead to 71-67 by three quarter-time.

Brisbane had all the momentum coming into the fourth quarter but it wouldn’t last. Munford knocked down a three for South East Melbourne and then after a bucket from Patterson, the Phoenix ran away with it.

The Bullets offence completely dried up and the Phoenix took full advantage scoring the game's nine points to be out to a 14-point lead again and end up winning by 15 on the back of 17 points to six in the fourth period.

The Bullets are next up on Thursday in Adelaide while the Phoenix make their return to John Cain Arena on Saturday against the Perth Wildcats.

HUNGRY JACK'S NBL ROUND 9

BRISBANE BULLETS 73 (Patterson 26, Sobey 9, Deng 8, Harrison 8, Drmic 8)

SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX 88 (Creek 22, Adnam 16, Munford 14) 

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