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Bullets upset Melbourne's NBL finals hopes

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/01/2017 Wayne Heming

The Brisbane Bullets have put the heat on Melbourne United's NBL play-off chances with a shock 88-71 victory at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.

The Bullets responded to an embarrassing 31-point loss to league leaders Adelaide on Thursday night and the sacking of American import Jermaine Beal just hours before tip-off to post one of their best wins of the season.

Brisbane led 41-32 at half time on the back of a 26-point partnership between captain Daniel Kickert (12 points) and import Torrey Craig (16 points) in front of more than 7000 fans.

Coach Andrej Lemanis promoted American-born guard Jeremy Kendle to his starting line-up and the former Toowoomba South East Queensland Basketball League (SEABL) MVP answered the call.

Kendle's defence on Melbourne's Casper Ware was a key factor in Brisbane's win which was built on the power game of Craig who had 24 points, seven rebounds and three assists and.

The in-form Kickert finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and one block.

Ware led all scorers with 27 points while sharpshooter Chris Goulding was held to 17 for the match.

Melbourne were off target, finishing the match with 22-68 at 32.4 per cent compared to Brisbane who connected with 32 of their 63 shots at just over 50 per cent.

"The response from the players tonight (after the huge loss to Adelaide) was very positive," Bullets coach Andrej Lemanis said.

"We played with the right heart and the right spirit and did a fantastic job defensively, you could feel the spirit and the camaraderie of the guys having everyone's back."

Melbourne United coach Dean Demopoulos said he admired Brisbane for the way in which they bounced back from such a bad loss.

"I don't know the reason (our shooting was off) but the other team was much better than us tonight," Demopoulos said.

"They forced the action, they were the aggressors coming off a tough loss like they had a few days ago. For them to them to bounce back like that my hat's off to them.

"The coaching staff whooped our a*** tonight and they deserved the victory.

"This (play-offs) is a snake fight and right now every game is important."

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