Melbourne beat Perth to go top of table

Melbourne United's red-hot form has carried them to the top of the NBL ladder.

To get there, they knocked off the two-time reigning champion, the Perth Wildcats, in a thriller on their home court.

Melbourne extended their winning streak to seven games with an 82-80 victory over the Wildcats on Friday night.

It wasn't pretty; and was at times heated. Melbourne had led by 13 points at the last change and by 12 with seven minutes left on the clock.

That's when Josh Boone was fouled out of the game and the Cats started to charge; with their largest ever crowd for a qualifying game (13,611) lifting the roof with every point.

Bryce Cotton got it back to a one-point game with just under a minute to play.

Casper Ware sealed the result though with two successful free-throws with 4.5 seconds left on the clock.

It took his game tally to 18 points. Thai Wesley led the scoring for Melbourne with 21 and 10 rebounds and five assists.

A confident Melbourne held the lead for most of the first half and by as many as 11 points at one stage.

Three consecutive successful long-range shots just before quarter-time gave United a five-point break at the main change.

Wesley produced one of them to give him nine points for the term.

The defensive instincts of the Wildcats kicked in during the second term and with Jean-Pierre Tokoto (11 points) and Cotton (10) leading the game's scoring at the break, the margin had reduced to three.

Tokoto finished with a game high 25 points, his last two coming as the final buzzer sounded, with his team still two points behind.

Perth's late challenge came despite Lucas Walker being fouled out of the game early in the third term. His fourth and fifth fouls came together and included an unsportsmanlike offense.

That fifth foul hurt. It was a technical foul and it put Chris Goulding to the line and he was gifted his first points for the game, almost three minutes into the second half.

He finished with an important nine points.

In winning, Melbourne also exorcised some of the demons still lingering from the 32-point hiding they copped at the hands of the defending champs in round seven.

Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman was satisfied with the win, despite giving up such a big lead.

"It's tough to get a win over here," he said.

"We decided to try and junk it up a little bit and change our defence. They have been so efficient in their man-to-man offense that we needed to try some different things.

"Being in the bonus in the first two or three minutes of that fourth quarter was a little scary.

"They get to the line so well and attack the rim so well; they lived at the foul line a little bit there.

"Somehow we got enough stops and composed ourselves enough to close it out."

They will get a chance to make a statement against a top-four side when they travel to New Zealand to play the Breakers on Thursday.

The Wildcats travel to Brisbane to play the Bullets on Sunday.