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GAME REPORT

White Sparks United Comeback Win in Brisbane

The work Jack White put in while injured was fully on show as he led a Melbourne United fightback with 20 of the first 25 points in the fourth quarter before holding on to beat the Brisbane Bullets 84-82 on Australia Day.

Melbourne's winning streak was in serious jeopardy of being stopped at seven by the Bullets who came out determined to make up for a tough 24-point loss in Sydney to the Kings on Sunday.

The Bullets led by as much as 11 points early in the second quarter after five quick points to Nathan Sobey and they were still up five by three quarter-time on their home floor at Nissan Arena on Wednesday.

However, Melbourne aren’t the championship favourites for nothing and the league-leaders made a statement in the first six minutes of the fourth quarter going on a 20-5 run to hold a 10-point advantage.

White was instrumental in that with his athleticism helping him simply outwork and outrun his opponents to get to the rack where he finished strongly on multiple occasions, especially as part of that run to start the fourth term.

However, sparked by Lamar Patterson, the Bullets still gave themselves a shot late but ultimately it was again White's blocked shot on Brisbane big Jack Salt that proved the match-winner before both Sobey and Anthony Drmic missed chances for the Bullets to send the game into overtime.

White's stat-line for Melbourne of 14 points, six rebounds and two blocks only told part of the story of his influence while Matthew Dellavedova finished with 16 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals too.

Chris Goulding finished with 12 points and three assists, Jo Lual-Acuil 11 points and eight rebounds, Shea Ili nine points and three assists, Ariel Hukporti nine points and Caleb Agada eight pints, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals.

The 16 turnovers and conceding 22 offensive rebounds to the Bullets wasn’t quite what coach Dean Vickerman was after, but holding Brisbane to 3/25 from three-point territory was as they notched the eighth consecutive victory.

"As you are playing these road games and we had one in Wollongong where you have one practice and no Shootaround, it was the same kind of thing leading into this one," Vickerman said.

"So you really have to trust what you've built in the pre-season and the structures, and you are playing a little bit by feel during the game. 

"I thought what we saw in the second quarter when we turned up our defence was more what we wanted to be doing for the game, and then as we rolled into the fourth we had a bit of momentum and established a good lead. 

"But to their credit, they were on their home floor and came fighting back, and it became a close game at the end there. There was that massive shot by Delly, though, to re-establish that lead and they did have a play to finish it off, but we were lucky enough to get a rebound and finished it off."

Lamar Patterson top-scored for Brisbane with 21 points and six rebounds with Nathan Sobey adding 18 points and Robert Franks 10.

The Bullets were without starting centre Ty Harrison but Jack Salt (seven points, six rebounds) and Chuanxing Liu (10 points, five boards) fought hard in his absence.

Brisbane coach James Duncan was pleased with the way his team continued to fight to give themselves a chance at the end.

"We knew it was going to be a dog fight throughout the course of the game regardless if we were up and in control of the game or not," he said. 

"There were a few stretches where we played some pretty good defence but we just couldn’t finish off possession by d-rebounding. You give a team like that more opportunities to put the ball in the basket they will eventually make you pay and I think that's what they did. 

"Credit to them, but credit to us for coming back and battling ourselves back into the game where we had an opportunity to tie and win the game at the end. But it wasn’t meant to be."

The Bullets made all the running early in the game and it started with their energy to crash the boards, especially at the offensive end. Brisbane had 10 of the first 11 rebounds of the game, including six of the 10 coming offensively which led to seven second chance points and a 20-11 lead.

Lamar Patterson and Nathan Sobey had hit threes, Sobey got out into transition to finish strongly and even big men Jack Salt and Chuanxing Liu finished inside having grabbed an o-board.

The Bullets hit the last six points of the first term as well to lead 28-17 by quarter-time with Sobey and Patterson combining for 16 of those 28 points.

Melbourne steadied in the quarter-time break and came out with a triple from Matthew Dellavedova and strong finish from Jo Lual-Acuil forcing Bullets coach James Duncan into an early timeout.

Brisbane responded and came out to hit the next five points all courtesy of Sobey, but Goulding wrapped around a curl for a mid-range jumper and then was left open for a three with Melbourne warming into the contest.

United would go on an 11-0 run soon after including Jack White converting a three-point play having taken the ball the length of the floor and finishing. Ariel Hukporti was doing cordial things inside too and United took the lead and were still up 41-40 by the half.

Melbourne extended their lead with Dellavedova's third triple of the game to start the second half, but Brisbane wrestled back control starting back-to-back baskets from Patterson.

Robert Franks then knocked down a three and the Bullets would go on to lead by seven again, and still were up by five at three quarter-time.

United came out on fire to start the fourth term, though, to turn the game on its head. It started with a Shea Ili three ball and then he got to the rack to finish, Caleb Agada scored and Hukporti threw one down.

It took less than two minutes for United to go on a 10-1 run before a Bullets timeout. It didn’t change much with Brisbane turning it over and White scoring for Melbourne up the other end and their lead grew to six.

It didn't take long for United to stretch that edge out to double-figures having started the fourth quarter with 20 of the opening 25 points.

While Melbourne turned their five-point deficit into a 10-point lead, Brisbane wasn’t done with yet. Liu and Sobey brought them back within six, and Franks made it a two-point ball game with 1:30 remaining.

Dellavedova steadied United with a three before a three-point play from Patterson kept it at two points with 45 seconds on the clock.

It was a dramatic finish with Brisbane having the chance to level but Jack Salt's shot was blocked by White. The Bullets fouled Lual-Acuil who missed both free-throws and from that the Bullets had seven seconds, and Sobey and Anthony Drmic both had tough looks under the basket that didn’t fall.

Brisbane remains at home to host the South East Melbourne Phoenix on Saturday while United head to Adelaide to take on the 36ers on Sunday.

HUNGRY JACK'S NBL ROUND 8

BRISBANE BULLETS 82 (Patterson 21, Sobey 18, Liu 10, Franks 10)

MELBOURNE UNITED 84 (Dellavedova 16, White 14, Goulding 12) 

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