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R12 Report: Energetic Sixers blitz Melbourne in tense finish

The Adelaide 36ers have withstood a second-half assault from Melbourne United to win 91-81 in a physical clash at a packed Titanium Security Arena on Wednesday evening. In the biggest crowd since the 2013/14 Grand Final, the Sixers rode the strong home advantage in an intense game that saw Melbourne mentor Dean Demopoulos hit with a technical in crunch time. Jerome Randle carried the mantle in the second half, pouring in 29 points, seven rebounds and nine assists, building on a stellar first half shooting performance from Daniel Johnson who finished with 31 points and 16 rebounds. Johnson battled early against Melbourne’s Daniel Kickert, as rebounding became a focus, with Adelaide holding the final advantage 52-34. Melbourne Coach Demopoulos was critical of his team’s efforts saying “rebounds are free, it’s for whoever wants them.” Kickert (20 points) asserted his authority early with a crushing one handed dunk before Johnson drained three shots from deep on his way to 21 first-half points on 5/5 three-pointers. Johnson continued his hot shooting early in the second half, yet it was partner in crime Randle that arguably stole his limelight. Continuing his sublime season Randle threw no look passes, broke defenders’ ankles and stuffed the stat sheet with a stellar fourth quarter performance resulting in the victory. On Randle, Coach Joey Wright said, “He is undoubtedly at NBA level, I’ve never seen someone put the ball in the hole so well that’s not in the NBA.” An Unsportsmanlike foul late in the second quarter on sixers captain Adam Gibson turned the flow of momentum towards Melbourne early as ex-NBA veteran Hakim Warrick erupted. Nailing two free throws before throwing down a monster tomahawk on Lucas Walker, Warrick trimmed the lead to five on his way to 20 points and five rebounds off the bench. An Adelaide timeout didn’t stem Melbourne’s momentum as Lucas Walker lost his cool and received a technical, sending Warrick to the line again, bringing the halftime score to a 48-43 Adelaide lead. Melbourne United mounted a second half comeback to take the lead behind Chris Goulding’s three consecutive three pointers after shooting 0/5 FGs in a disappointing first half. “There were no open looks, we made him shoot two feet further out and threw him off his game,” Wright said. Melbourne stretched the lead early in the final quarter as they looked to have control, yet it was Demopoulos’ ill-timed outburst that sparked the home side. Demopoulos saw the funny side of his technical foul after the game saying “that cost me 10 grand man”. Christmas has come early for the Sixers (9-9 record) as they continue to climb up the ladder, while Melbourne (11-7) have lost seven of their past nine. United will hope to stem the bleeding at home to Perth on Sunday, while Adelaide have a Christmas break before jetting off to North Shore Events Centre to face the Breakers.   ADELAIDE 36ERS 91 (Johnson 31, Randle 29, Ere 9) MELBOURNE UNITED 81 (Kickert 20, Warrick 20, Holt 12) BOX SCORE
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