United down Bullets 102-94 in NBL

Casper Ware (C) with 23 points has led Melbourne United to a 102-94 NBL home victory over Brisbane.
Casper Ware (C) with 23 points has led Melbourne United to a 102-94 NBL home victory over Brisbane.

Defending champions Melbourne United have stepped up in the fourth quarter to close out a 102-94 NBL victory over the Brisbane Bullets.

Holding a 77-75 lead after three quarters at Melbourne Arena, United reeled off seven unanswered points early in the fourth to break away from the visitors.

Casper Ware led the way for Melbourne with 23 points and six assists with David Barlow scoring 18 and Chris Goulding 16.

Melbourne improve their win-loss record to 8-3 on the season, joining top-ranked Perth on eight wins with the Wildcats having two games in hand.

United raced out to an early eight-point lead but Brisbane's import pairing of Lamar Patterson and Stephen Holt combined for 21 first-half points as the visitors took a 44-43 lead into halftime.

Neither team could make a decisive break in the third stanza but United dominated in crunch time, extending the lead to 11 during their fourth-quarter charge.

Backing up from Friday's seven-point away win over the Breakers, Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman was pleased with the way his side found a way to thwart Brisbane's challenge.

"I thought we didn't play with the same energy level for the whole game that we did in New Zealand the other night but it always felt like it was still there," Vickerman said.

The Bullets connected on 15 three-pointers with six players finishing in double figures, Adam Gibson the best with 18, but were punished 26-10 in points on turnovers.

Brisbane coach Andrej Lemanis felt his team played well in many areas but that turnovers and defensive breakdowns contributed to the result.

"The (turnovers) seemed to come at key moments when we had a chance to build a little momentum or expand a lead," Lemanis said after the Bullets dropped their third game in a row.

United will host the Sydney Kings on Saturday before the league pauses for a weekend during the FIBA international window.

Australian Associated Press