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United back on track for NBL finals push

AAP logoAAP 26/12/2016

Melbourne United launched themselves back in the NBL top four after a dominant display over the Brisbane Bullets on Boxing Day.

Down by six points early in the second quarter, United lifted the intensity at both ends of the court to produce arguably their best result of the season so far by completing a 97-59 blowout over the Bullets.

Losers of two straight matches following a home win against Melbourne, Brisbane coach Andrej Lemanis was left to lament his side's lack of resilience after early momentum swung United's way then "snowballed" into a comprehensive defeat.

As is often the case, guard Chris Goulding was at the heart of the United surge with his aggressive offensive play and long-range shooting.

Goulding capped a pivotal second quarter with a buzzer-beating three-pointer off a missed free throw from Brisbane forward Anthony Petrie's with three seconds left on the clock.

United coach Dean Demopoulos was able to rest Goulding in the final quarter once the result was beyond doubt, though the sharp shooter still top-scored with 19 points.

"This whole group here had a good collective energy tonight," Demopoulos said.

"It was positive and it was consistent."

Brisbane scored 24 points in the first quarter but Melbourne's defence restricted them to just three field goals in the second quarter and 22 total points in the second half.

United had no such difficulties on offence as they drained 16-of-32 shots from beyond the arc.

"If you have 24 assists and seven turnovers, it means you are sharing the ball," Demopoulos added.

"Usually that is happening because you are getting stops and you are able to play in a flow where they are back-pedalling instead of attacking defensively, which they like to do."

New signing Josh Boone, an injury replacement player who played four seasons with New Jersey in the NBA, played 19 minutes and finished with seven points and 10 rebounds despite having yet to practice with his new teammates.

"He's a bonafide basketball player whose played at the highest of levels and succeeded," Demopoulos said.

"He came in bright-eyed and with an open mind and a willingness to listen and learn for a short time.

"He went out and really performed well tonight."

United's next challenge will be a trip to Cairns to face the Taipans on Thursday night followed by a home clash with league leaders Adelaide on New Year's Day.

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