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R7 Report: Webster career-high steers Breakers home

Corey Webster exploded for an NBL season-high and personal career-high 39 points to propel the New Zealand Breakers to a payback 80-69 victory over Melbourne United on Sunday afternoon. Webster's offensive masterclass (7-9 three-pointers) was timely to say the least, with the Breakers desperate for a dose of revenge after losing their tense November 8 game in Melbourne. The defending champions had talked about playing with a chip on their shoulder after the events of that Sunday afternoon at Hisense Arena, and Webster certainly brought the attitude in front of nearly 7,000 fans at Vector Arena. He was 13-25 from the floor and made six of his seven free throws, picking apart Melbourne throughout a win that was only decided in the final term. "That [payback] was in the back of my mind ever since that happened, but honestly I wasn't thinking about that during the game. "I was just trying to help the team wherever I could to get the win, and luckily I shot the ball well," Webster said post-game. The NBA hopeful bookended his haul with 14-point first and fourth quarters to produce the season's defining offensive performance. "He's a terrific player, he made some tough shots ... they made some tough shots," Melbourne coach Dean Demopoulos said. "I thought we defended him okay for the majority of the time, but he made some terrific shots. They got him open, they went to him, and that's what champions do." Demopoulos was clearly impressed with Webster's poised display, agreeing with a suggestion that the Breakers shooting guard was the NBL's Steph Curry right now. "That's a good analogy. He was tonight," the United coach said. "There are a lot of good players in this league, a lot of fine players, but Corey is at the top of the list for sure. That was a great, great performance. "I've seen Kobe [Bryant] get 60 on us [in the NBA], and seen great players get high numbers. That, to be honest, was about as quiet a 39 as you get. It was very efficient -- he had a hell of a game." The Breakers win makes it six from their past seven and a club record 6-0 at home. Meanwhile, Melbourne have now lost three straight after that 9-0 start. The New Zealanders joined rivals Perth on a 7-4 record, with the two to will clash in the Wild West on Friday night. Melbourne got 19 points on six-of-16 shooting from Chris Goulding and 17 (6-19 FG) from import guard Stephen Holt. But they shot just 36 per cent (24-67 FG) and made just 3-19 three-pointers on a night when the Breakers' tough performance typified the grit of its leader Cedric Jackson, who played through a bruised knee. The Breakers shot 46 per cent (30-66) overall and 40 from beyond the arc (8-20) in a game with seven lead changes and six ties. Melbourne had led 35-32 at the half and hung tough through the third to keep their noses in front 52-51 at three-quarter time, but when Webster came out and slotted two quick triples the Breakers. Before long Mika Vukona and Alex Pledger were adding points inside and when Webster made two more triples down the stretch the champs had the separation they needed. Melbourne head to Townsville next Thursday desperate to break that three-game losing skid.   NZ BREAKERS 80 (Webster 39, Cedric Jackson 10, Abercrombie 9) MELBOURNE UNITED 69 (Goulding 19, Holt 17, Kickert 13) BOX SCORE
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