By Paulo Kennedy, Pagemasters
The Melbourne Tigers defeated the Adelaide 36ers 87-80 at The Cage in Melbourne on Sunday to move within striking distance of fourth place.
In a game memorable for the point guard battle between NBA recruit Jonny Flynn and emerging Australian star Jason Cadee, who both put on a stunning fullcourt display, Melbourne started quickly and had all the answers until a late Adelaide charge made things interesting in the final minutes.
Flynn led the Tigers with 22 points and nine assists, while Seth Scott (23 points) and Chris Goulding (16) were always dangerous.
Cadee was superb with 24 points and four assists, with Daniel Johnson (25 points, 10 rebounds) and Anthony Petrie (15 points, 5 rebounds) also in double-figures.
Flynn started the game firing, running up 10 points in the first five minutes including two pull-up triples in transition. When Goulding nailed a fastbreak three of his own the Tigers led 19-8 midway through the term.
While Adelaide regrouped thanks largely to the speed and shooting of Cadee, who was omnipresent as both ends, they could not make any inroads as simple errors regularly offset well executed plays.
When Flynn finished his entertaining first-half duel with Cadee with a cool pull-up buzzer-beater the home team were in front 39-28 at the main break.
The point guard battle resumed immediately in the third term with Cadee stroking a triple before Flynn found Scott for a power jam.
Adelaide closed within seven but Melbourne responded in style, and when Flynn threw the pass of the night for another Scott flush the margin was 13 and the home crowd pumping.
With Melbourne dominant, an incredible long-range buzzer-beater from Cadee was all that kept Adelaide within 66-50 at the last break.
"It's when you sit back and watch and then you have to chase a lot," 36ers coach Marty Clarke said of his team's repeated lapses.
"We chased hard, but we shouldnt get to that point where we have to chase as much. It's about seeing the situation and understanding what's about to happen, whether it's on offence or defence."
The final term was memorable for a Lucas Walker alley-oop and Anthony Petrie’s spectacular reject on a Bennie Lewis dunk attempt, and while the 36ers made a courageous late charge the damage had been done.
“Obviously the result was the one we needed,” Melbourne coach Chris Anstey said.
“I thought the first half we played very well, the defensive intensity and the intent to rebound, I thought we came up with nearly every 50/50 ball we could come up with.
"But to give up 52 points in the second half of a game of basketball, it was like it was two different teams out there.”
Melbourne Tigers 87 (Scott 23, Flynn 22, Goulding 16)
Adelaide 36ers 80 (Johnson 25, Cadee 24, Petrie 15)
Crowd: 3215 at State Netball & Hockey Centre, Melbourne