• Brisbane – last year’s wooden spooners have beaten Melbourne – last year’s champions three consecutive times.
• The Bullets’ crowd of 4485 on the Gold Coast was their biggest for a home game this season
• Melbourne United have now lost four of their past six games
• Matt Hodgson led the Bullets scoring with a new season-high 17 points
• Jason Cadee dished off a new career-high nine assists and added 14 points
• Melbourne were missing import DJ Kennedy after a minor traffic accident
• Brisbane debuted AJ Davis (two points) becoming the 192nd player in history to represent the Bullets
The Brisbane Bullets have blasted themselves back into the top four with a gritty 95-86 win over a fresh Melbourne United in front of 4485 fans at the Gold Coast Sport and Leisure Centre on Sunday afternoon.
A recent pummelling at the hands of Cairns and four games in nine days were not enough to deny the Bullets yet another win over the reigning champs – a match-up that the Bullets will be confident with should they meet in the post-season.
United was without import small forward DJ Kennedy, due to stiffness following a minor car crash on Friday, and his absence was felt down the stretch as both Casper Ware and Chris Goulding failed to fire together.
With or without Kennedy, the win was a much-needed boost of confidence as the Bullets lock horns with Adelaide and a resurgent New Zealand Breakers in a fight for a playoff spot.
All three Bullets imports had quiet afternoons, including the freshly minted AJ Davis who barely saw court time with 4:30 in a single second-quarter stint. Lamar Patterson had a modest 12 points, while Jeremy Kendle managed just four and Davis two.
But Matt Hodgson, Cameron Gliddon and Jason Cadee took the reins.
After the game, Bullets coach Andrej Lemanis said he was happy with the way his team bounced back from the flogging in Cairns.
“We didn’t come out with the mental application that we wanted to on Thursday against Cairns, but we had a good day at practice and I thought the response was good,” he said.
“I’m really pleased with the depth that we have now that enables us to maintain an intensity at the defensive end. Having 24 assists tonight was a good sign that we’re sharing the ball, but I keep pointing back to the defence, that’s where it is for us.”
Cadee had his biggest game of the season in a return to his first NBL home town, with 14 points and nine assists, while Gliddon netted 16 and Hodgson a team-high 17 and eight rebounds on 7/10 shooting.
Ware was largely the lone hand for United, with 29 points, as Mitch McCarron managed a solid 12 in big minutes, and Craig Moller had 11.
United coach Dean Vickerman lamented his side’s inability to hit shots.
“Down the stretch they made shots better than us. We feel like we were in a position that we really needed this win,” he said.
“I thought in the first quarter we showed that, but dropped a level defensively in the second quarter. We had 13 more shots than them, we don’t turn the ball over, we crash the offensive glass to get extra possessions. We’ve just got to convert right now.”
The first half was a fun, fast-paced affair with the Bullets spreading scores nicely and Ware leading his side with 15 points.
Ware, Goulding and David Barlow lit it up from the perimeter early as United sneaked away to a 21-13 lead.
But after Cameron Bairstow steadied the Bullets’ ship with six quick points it was mainly shot-for-shot over the first 20 minutes.
Cadee knocked down a triple on the half-time buzzer to give his side a 48-45 lead at the main break.
Ware kept piling on the points in the third, but his teammates failed to convert wide open looks which would have had the champs in the box seat to get one back on the Bullets.
But Cadee ran the NBL’s most efficient offence to perfection and kept United at arm’s length through the entire second half.
Brisbane is up next in Adelaide on Saturday, while Melbourne is in Cairns on Sunday.
NBL ROUND 12
BRISBANE BULLETS 95 (Hodgson 17, Gliddon 16, Cadee 14)
MELBOURNE UNITED 86 (Ware 29, McCarron 12, Moller 11)