Former NBA big men Josh Boone and David Andersen came up big as Melbourne United scored a priceless 78-72 win over Illawarra Hawks on Monday night.
With the Hisense Arena roof open, Melbourne veteran bigs came up big as Boone’s 20 points and 12 rebounds plus Andersen’s 10 second-half points proved too much for the Hawks who fell in front of 6,947. They remain second on the ladder, while Melbourne elevates to third.
Rotnei Clarke’s 19 points and Oscar Forman’s 12 points from four three-pointers were excellent for the Hawks but they will rue losing the rebound count 48-42 and giving up 16 offensive rebounds, many of them to Boone.
Todd Blanchfield was firing early for Melbourne as they led 12-1 but Clarke was on song from the moment he hit the court, hitting a perfect 10 points from four makes to wake up the Hawks who trailed 20-15 at quarter-time.
Forman’s two three-pointers were big for the Hawks but Boone kept finding layups including one in the final seconds as scores were tied 37-37 at half-time.
The third term was compelling and finely balanced until Andersen – who facilitated offence with four assists – and Blanchfield inspired a late run which saw United lead by seven points after both players hit three-pointers.
But AJ Ogilvy’s three-point play and a nifty jump hook cut back that lead and only another late hoop from Boone made sure of a Melbourne lead, 58-52, going into the last term.
Boone’s dunk and another three from Andersen had Melbourne up 63-55 with seven minutes to play and despite some late hoops from the Hawks, Casper Ware’s late free throws plus Chris Goulding’s drive to the hoop made sure of the Melbourne win.
Melbourne plays New Zealand in Auckland on Friday night while the Hawks host Brisbane Bullets on Saturday night.
MELBOURNE UNITED 78 (Boone 20, Goulding 18, Ware 16)
ILLAWARRA HAWKS 72 (Clarke 19, Forman 12, Harris 9, Ogilvy 9)