Melbourne United have put a week of controversy behind them, stunning the Sydney Kings with a record-setting opening-quarter blitz on the way to a crushing 89-47 victory.
United embarrassed the visitors by opening Thursday’s contest at John Cain Arena with a 26-0 start before closing the first quarter with a 34-5 lead – the largest opening-quarter margin in NBL history.
The Kings enjoyed some brighter moments in the second term but could not prevent Melbourne from building a 34-point advantage at the main break, reaching another milestone for the biggest halftime lead since the league switched to 40-minute games in 2009.
United kept rolling in the second half as they cruised to victory with the Kings recording their lowest total in club history, thanks to a woeful 21 per cent shooting effort on the night.
The result was a major boost for the defending champions after opening the season with a 0-2 record and dealing with the aftermath of last Sunday’s brawl against South East Melbourne Phoenix that saw six players and coaches fined and forward Mason Peatling suspended for one match.
“We did talk about trying to get off to a good start but I’m not sure if I’ve been a part of a 26-0 start in this league,” coach Dean Vickerman said.
While Melbourne first-half dominance set up the win, Vickerman was equally impressed with the way his squad maintained their focus after halftime as they closed out their 11th win in the past 12 games against Sydney at John Cain Arena.
“I guess the biggest challenge once you get a heavy lead is how relentless you can continue to be defensively and I take good pride to say we kept them under 50 points,” he said.
Import Caleb Agada helped trigger United’s fast start on the way to leading all scorers with 21 points while captain Chris Goulding added 13 on his return to action after missing the opening two games with a hamstring injury.
Kings coach Chase Buford lamented his side’s poor start with Sydney missing their opening 14 shots and closing the first quarter on 1-of-19 shooting.
“(United) came out like a team that was desperate to get a win and they brought the intensity and the physicality and we didn’t match it,” Buford said after the loss.
“I don’t know if we came out and thought it was going to be sweet or what but we didn’t match their intensity to start the game tonight and it showed from the opening tip.”