NBL ladder leaders Melbourne United have extended their current winning streak to seven games after holding off a fast-finishing Brisbane Bullets to win 98-89.
United led by as many as 18 points at John Cain Arena on Monday night but were forced to dig deep after Bullets star Nathan Sobey caught fire to bring his team back into the contest.
Sobey finished with 30 points, including six three-pointers, but the efforts of Jock Landale (23 points, 13 rebounds) and Mitch McCarron (eight points, 11 assists) ensured Melbourne chalked up their 17th win of the season.
A dominant first-half display saw United take a 58-40 lead but Brisbane came roaring back after the main break thanks to a 13-point burst from Sobey to trail by seven heading into the final quarter.
But United kept their poise and found an answer each time the Bullets threatened to shrink the margin.
Chris Goulding connected on a series of timely three-pointers in his 18-point haul while valuable contributions from Yudai Baba (16) and Sam McDaniel (15) helped cover the loss of injured duo Scotty Hopson and Shea Ili.
"I thought Baba and Sammy Mac were just huge for us tonight," coach Dean Vickerman said after United set a new season-best winning sequence, eclipsing their 6-0 start to the campaign.
"The way that they defended and being able to both score 15-16 points each at key moments - they both stepped into the role that was vacated tonight, took those minutes and grabbed them."
The match opened with Landale and Jason Cadee trading early baskets but United stifled Brisbane's offensive flow and Jo Lual-Acuil landed his side's fifth triple of the first quarter to cap a 31-20 start.
A long bomb from Landale handed Melbourne the ideal opening to the second period and with Baba making an impact at both ends and McDaniel closing the half with back-to-back triples, United looked in complete control up 18.
But Sobey triggered a Bullets resurgence with nine points in an 11-2 start to the second half and a nice cameo from rookie guard Tamuri Wigness helped cut the Melbourne lead to seven.
Brisbane got as close as five following Sobey's sixth triple but United controlled the final two minutes to seal the victory.
"When you get down 18 in a half, you are in a situation where you pretty much need everything to go your way in the second half to give yourself a chance," coach Andrej Lemanis said about the loss with costly turnovers his biggest concern.
"They had 23 points off our 15 turnovers ... that tells a pretty big tale in where the difference in this game was today."
Australian Associated Press