Melbourne United has written itself into the NBL record books after thrashing Sydney Kings 125-80 to draw level in their best-of-three semi-final series.
Coming off a stunning late collapse in game one, United shrugged off the disappointment by crushing the Kings on Monday night in a performance that had the Melbourne Arena crowd in raptures.
The 45-point margin was the largest in any NBL game since matches dropped from 48 minutes to 40 in 2010.
United coach Dean Vickerman praised his players on the way they bounced back from conceding a 16-point lead in Saturday’s 86-80 defeat in Sydney.
“We were pissed off from the other night,” Vickerman said.
“I thought we played well enough up there and I thought these guys responded really well.”
Sydney trailed 38-31 when United dropped 38 consecutive points through the second and third quarters to leave the minor premiers shellshocked, setting up a blockbuster series decider in Sydney on Thursday.
United outscored Sydney 32-7 in the second period to lead by 27 at half-time but was not content with its opening salvo, piling on the first 18 points of the third quarter with the margin blowing out to 58 points at one stage.
Shawn Long (26 points, 11 rebounds) and Melo Trimble (21 points) were the catalysts for Melbourne’s triumph, with the import duo combining for 24 points in the decisive second-quarter charge.
Stanton Kidd added 18 after starting in place of 300-gamer David Barlow, nailing three triples to lay the platform as United racked up 45 points in the third quarter.
Jae’Sean Tate (18 points) was the lone bright spot in a horror night for Sydney, leaving Kings coach Will Weaver to pick up the pieces before game three.
“It’s difficult to reflect without having a chance to evaluate it but I clearly felt they were the more aggressive team,” Weaver said.
“That’s the fun of the finals I guess, is that everyone’s trying to manage the see-saw of emotions and compose themselves.”
United made a confident start with a dominant stretch through the middle part of the first quarter, making the most of Sydney’s four first-quarter turnovers including Tate’s unsportsmanlike foul on Mitch McCarron with the Kings in possession of the ball.
The Kings rallied near the end of the opening period to cut Melbourne’s lead to 26-24 but that was their last meaningful period of the game as Long and Trimble powered United’s match-winning offensive burst.
Up 58-31 at half-time, Kidd opened the second half with a three-pointer and the points kept coming for the home side, Sydney unable to stem the flow as United closed the third quarter with an unassailable 103-55 advantage.