Melbourne United have stunned the Brisbane Bullets late to claim a thrilling 69-68 NBL win in the open-air Boxing Day match at Hisense Arena.
After trailing most of the night, United fought back to take a one-point lead in the final three minutes before both team’s remained scoreless the rest of the way.
The win was Melbourne’s fourth straight to improve their record to 10-6 and close in on the top two.
Veteran big man David Andersen kick-started Melbourne’s offence with 11 second-quarter points to finish with 15 for the game, with support from Tai Wesley (14 points, nine rebounds) and Chris Goulding (12 points).
Adam Gibson top-scored for Brisbane with 19 points while centre Tom Jervis added 17.
Point guard Travis Trice was held to 12 points and missed a long three-pointer with three seconds remaining that would have won the game for the visitors.
Brisbane controlled the tempo in the first quarter, restricting United’s high-powered offence to just 14 points, and maintained a 10-point advantage at halftime.
The home side rallied late in the third quarter before claiming a memorable win at the death.
Brisbane built an 18-6 lead thanks to some tight defence and a 9-0 scoring run, with Trice closing the quarter with nine points to ensure the visitors went into the first break holding a 24-14 edge.
Andersen sparked United by opening the second quarter with seven unanswered points but Brisbane steadied behind Gibson’s outside shooting to take a double-digit lead lead into halftime.
The third quarter became an arm-wrestle with neither team able take charge until United outscored the Bullets 9-2 in the final three minutes, with Kyle Adnam’s late layup bringing the crowd to life.
After drawing level twice in a tense final term, Ware finally gave United their first lead of the night after being fouled by Gibson behind the three-point line and making all his free throws.
United expect to have recently-signed import Carrick Felix available for their trip to Sydney to play the Kings on Saturday.
The Bullets will aim to get back on track at the Illawarra Hawks on New Years Eve.
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