Melbourne United’s season has received an incredible shot in the arm after a thrilling 99-89 comeback overtime win over the Taipans in Cairns.
Lacking vital signs and staring down the barrel of three-straight losses to lower ranked teams, United was merely waiting for things to happen until Casper Ware shot the lethargy out of their system and brought his side all the way back from an 18-point second-half deficit.
The visitors looked dead in the water midway through the third term until Ware found a pulse, teaming up with David Barlow to chip away at a shaky Snakes side.
With three minutes remaining the home side held a nine-point lead before Josh Boone, Chris Goulding and Barlow all made buckets to force an extra period.
After the game, United coach Dean Vickerman credited his side’s defensive adjustment on Trimble in the second half despite him still having 42 for the game.
“He was just knifing us up and we did a little bit better of limiting catches and a little bit better at being more aggressive in the on-ball [screen],” he said.
“That probably allowed us to load up a bit more. Josh Boone, we haven’t put him in really aggressive coverages this year… we pushed him out past the screen this time and I thought he had good success with that.”
Trimble had the best individual scoring game of the NBL season with 42, but went cold when it mattered, missing the potential game-winning floater in regulation.
Ware, with a team-high 27 points after just two at half-time, was the main man with three huge triples in overtime to cap a 21-0 run as United completely rolled over the top of a hapless Snakes side that shot itself in the foot.
Along with Ware’s 27 points, Barlow (24) and Boone (15 and 15 rebounds) were destroyers down the stretch.
Trimble’s 42 paced Cairns, with Nathan Jawai (18) the only other notable contributor.
Taipans coach Mike Kelly said he missed some tricks in the second half, and called the night a coaching learning experience.
“We dried up offensively and lost our direction,” he said.
“From my point of view, me giving more direction [was needed] and from our players taking responsibility also on the floor and giving each other direction. I do want the ball to move more, and when someone is hot I want them fed the ball.”
Trimble came out as a one-man show for the Snakes.
He just wouldn’t give up the rock and had no reason to as Friday night’s Cat Killer dropped 18 in the first frame alone on 8/8 shooting as Cairns led 25-18 at quarter-time.
Point guard counterpart Ware, who averaged 33 in United’s two prior games against Cairns, had some catching up to do with a quarter-time doughnut.
Trimble continued to be perfect into the second quarter, finishing the half with 23 points on 10/10 shooting, as Cairns extended the lead by seven to lead 46-32 at the main break.
Until Trimble, no Taipan had ever posted 20 points by half-time in consecutive games.
Jawai (10 points at half-time) went to work with three buckets in the second and continued torturing
Alex Pledger on the low block into the third term.
The big man was roaring to the crowd as he got a deep seal on Pledger and went to work three possessions in a row. United brought a double team, but it wasn’t bothering the man mountain.
The Snakes were rolling and the building was rocking at 57-39 until Ware awoke from his slumber to land two quick triples and immediately draw a Kelly timeout.
Trimble had missed a lay-up – his first miss of the game – at the 6:00 mark of the third, between Ware’s threes, but steadied the ship with his sixth triple to put the Snakes back up 15.
Ware continued pouring it on as United crept back into the game, trailing 72-59 with a quarter remaining as Cairns went away from Jawai on the block.
Trimble wanted to call game with his seventh three from as many attempts with under five minutes left, but Ware and Goulding simply wouldn’t let him.
But the excuses were nil for Cairns.
With such a commanding lead being lost by going away from what had been working, no game this season encapsulated the 2018/19 Taipans quite like this one.
United, meanwhile, reminded everyone of their depth and championship credentials.
The Snakes are in Brisbane on Saturday, while United is in Perth on Sunday.
NBL ROUND 13
MELBOURNE UNITED 99 (Ware 27, Barlow 24, Boone 15)
CAIRNS TAIPANS 89 (Trimble 42, Jawai 18, Newbill 10)