Adelaide 90, Melbourne 87
At the pre-game dinner tonight, Coach Joey Wright announced to those in attendance that Gibbo would get the job on Chris Goulding and DJ would get the job on Mark Worthington. Gibbo on Goulding was a given but DJ on Wortho seemed a little left field. Besides the matchup seeming like a challenge (to say the least) for DJ, it also meant Petrie would have to guard the 7ft Scott Morrison.
Then the game started and it made perfect sense.
The Tigers looked to Morrison frequently early and he scored 6 of their first 11 points. While Peach struggled to contain the bigger Morrison, essentially he was a decoy, forcing other Tigers besides Worthington and Goulding to shoot the ball. Adelaide contained the two Tigers stars early. The teams felt each other out until Adelaide went on a 12-0 run, moving from an 11-10 deficit to a 22-11 lead. It was again Adelaide's transition scoring that helped it build a solid lead. Six different players scored those 12 for Adelaide with the team at it's running and passing best. At the quarter it was Adelaide 22-13 with Worthington and Goulding failing to get on the scoreboard.
It was more of the same in the second with Adelaide winning the quarter 31-22 and getting out to a 53-33 lead at the half. This time though Adelaide was punishing Melbourne from outside, hitting a phenomenal seven threes. Gary Ervin (11 for the quarter) hit three while DJ hit his first two of the season. Schenscher provided a target inside that created space for Adelaide's shooters and it started to look like this one would turn into a blowout. The only threat to this appeared to be Chris Goulding, who scored Melbourne's last 10 for the quarter (and his first 10 for the game) in just 90 seconds. And yes, Gibson was on the bench when this happened.
The third quarter was a totally different story. Adelaide's long distance and running game was gone, replaced with a slower inside/outside game. Melbourne awoke from it's slumber, thanks largely to Mark Worthington and Adam Ballinger. All of a sudden Melbourne had it's best players taking the best shots and it looked a different team. Worthington scored 11 within the first five minutes and finished with 13 for the quarter. He was well supported by "Balls" who took advantage of being defended by Luke Schenscher and settled for a barrage of mid-range jumpers (9 points for the quarter). Adelaide got 8 different players on the scoresheet for the quarter as it struggled to contend with Melbourne's far better interior D. Luke Schenscher led Adelaide's scorers for the quarter with 5 but the biggest contribution was Jason Cadee's buzzer beating three to end the quarter. It got Adelaide back out to 75-66, those three points proving crucial in the final scoreline.
It was Worthington and Goulding versus DJ and G-Money during the 4th, with both teams fighting hard to get the edge. A Ballinger 3 with 1:51 to go got Melbourne within one at 85-84 and the crowd was suddenly very nervous. Frye scored off an offensive rebound before Gary Ervin came up with a huge play, running into a wall of 4 Tigers and scooping it under to DJ who finished to get the lead back to 89-84. Wortho had one more big three in him to get it to 89-87 before a flurry of fouls eventually put Melbourne into the penalty where Ervin hit 1 of 2 to ice the game.
Just like last week against New Zealand, Adelaide built a huge lead, saw it get whittled away but hung in to the end and came out with a win. There were lots of positives though as Adelaide moved to 3-0 at home and with it's confidence high it can take down the Wildcats next week.
The Tigers stunk it up in the first half but it's deep frontcourt and Goulding allowed it to hang around. The Tigers are solid from players 1-6 but are crying out for another guard who can score and defend. Ubaka is not the answer and sadly will have to be let go if Melbourne is to nail down a top 4 spot.
Adelaide Player Reviews
Gibson (35min, 13pts, 5 reb, 5 ast). Excellent defensive game and an even offensive contribution. One of his better games for the season.
Ervin (31min, 21pts, 2 reb, 8 ast). Heart and soul of the team tonight and willed his team to the win. Continues to attack the basket with recklessness and a few times has perhaps been a little blinkered but his pass to DJ at the end sealed the game for Adelaide.
Frye (25min, 6pts, 5 reb, 2 ast). Another quiet game but came up with some big defensive plays and that key offensive rebound and putback late in the game.
Petrie (27min, 6pts, 6reb, 0 ast). Felt like half the Tigers baskets were scored on him and had about ten outside shots hit in his face. Had a role to play but a tough night out.
Johnson (23min, 19pts, 6 reb, 0 ast). Only 23 minutes but actually probably had his best "both ends" game of the year. For matchup reasons, Schensch just got a bigger chunk of his minutes. Key basket late.
Cadee (9min, 7pts, 2 reb, 0 ast). His third quarter three and runner in the fourth were important. Good output for 9 minutes.
Teys (4min, opts, 0 reb, 0 ast). Only got a few minutes and spent them on Goulding. Played him ok but it was here where Goulding got going.
Schenscher (22min, 11pts, 7 reb, 0 ast). Another solid game from Big Luke. Tigers had no answer for him on our offensive end. Got dragged out by Wortho and Ballinger a few times on D but also changed plenty of shots underneath, including 2 blocks. Luke haters will be quiet tonight.
Anthony (9min, 3pts, 3 reb, 0 ast). A little off tonight but was ok.
Creek (10min, 4pts, 4 reb, 0 ast). Due to matchups got limited time and struggled to have his usual impact although still did a couple of good things.
Next up is Perth in what looms as the game of the season......