Hungry Jack's NBL
United make it 10 straight but lose Landale early
Melbourne United lost star centre Jock Landale seconds into the match but dominated still on their way to claiming a 10th straight NBL win beating New Zealand Breakers 90-76 on Wednesday night.
Landale came out of the game after the jump ball and didn’t return due to a minor knee injury but in his place Scotty Hopson (25 points), Jo Lual-Acuil (23 points, nine rebounds) and Chris Goulding (19 points) stepped up to make sure their side claimed yet another win at John Cain Arena.
Goulding had 14 points in the opening six minutes and all 19 of his points in the first half then Lual-Acuil dominated the second term to be in double-figures before half-time.
Hopson has faced some criticism for his low scoring returns earlier in the season but the former Breaker was at his best on this night against his former team.
He also avoided serious injury just before half-time when he was bumped while completing a slam dunk which he receiving treatment for a sore wrist from before continuing to star in the second half.
In all, Melbourne had 58 bench points while the Breakers struggled to find solutions for the home side’s attack.
It was anther commanding performance at home from United as they set a franchise record with the 10th consecutive win to maintain top spot on the NBL ladder but with tantalising match ups to come against last year's Grand Finalists, the Sydney Kings and Perth Wildcats.
United coach Dean Vickerman said Landale felt something in his right knee in the last play of warm-ups and felt it again at the jump ball so left the game.
He won’t know more until after Landale has scans but he was buoyed by the way Lual-Acuil and others stepped up.
"As a precaution, we pulled him out, it’s a right knee and there is something going on there so we have to get a scan and check it out," Vickerman said.
"Jo comes in and plays 31 minutes and going 10 of 14 and doing a great job holding the centre position down against a beast in Colton Iverson.
"It was really important to get Shea Ili and Hop back into a rhythm as they come back from injury. Shea made good decisions out of the on-ball screen and Hop found some touch and putting the ball in the hole."
It was a disappointing showing from the Breakers who were never really in the contest. They had played well just on Monday night to beat the Adelaide 36ers in Launceston, but they looked a tired outfit from the get go on Wednesday and were never really in the game against the league-leaders.
Breakers guard Corey Webster was leading scorer with 20 points and Will McDowell-White added 12 points.
Breakers captain Tom Abercrombie scored 11 points in his 355th game for the club which made him the all-time games leader for the team surpassing legendary tough man and championship winner Mika Vukona.
Abercrombie said he was disappointed in his side’s lack of energy.
"We’ve had some ups and downs where we play some really good basketball and then have some flat patches," Abercrombie said.
"We never really found our feet, all the 50-50 balls they were getting, we couldn’t get ourselves into the game properly and it’s something we have to be better at.
"We never found our physicality, we never took a stand defensively, we were a bit soft tonight which is not the type of team we can be.
"We can be a really good defensive team but we didn’t play a good defensive game tonight."
The Breakers threatened to come back into the game when McDowell-White’s three cut the lead to 48-42 early in the third term but Hopson and Lual-Acuil fired again to push the margin back to double-figures.
Melbourne’s lead would pass 20 but in the final minutes the Breakers found ways to frustrate the home side’s offence and cut the lead to nine but Hopson came up with a three-point play to lock in the win.
The Breakers host Perth Wildcats at the Silverdome in Launceston on Saturday evening while Melbourne United play Sydney Kings at John Cain Arena on Sunday afternoon.
HUNGRY JACK'S NBL ROUND 16
MELBOURNE UNITED 90 (Hopson 25, Lual-Acuil 23, Goulding 19)
NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS 76 (Webster 20, McDowell-White 12, Abercrombie 11)