Top dogs Melbourne winning the war

The wake up call that Melbourne United received from the Perth Wildcats earlier in the season was obviously heard loud and clear.

That 32-point hiding on November 19 left United with a 5-5 record.

The 82-80 win over the Wildcats in Perth on Friday night had them sitting 13-6 and on top of the NBL ladder going into the weekend.

They are enjoying a seven-game winning streak, having lost just won game, to Cairns, since that notably dismal performance.

Tai Wesley starred for United in the most recent win, with 21 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.

And he's now looking towards Thursday's clash with New Zealand to give his side even more credibility among the top four.

"We won six on a row, but we hadn't beaten Perth or New Zealand. We now get the chance to beat New Zealand next week and to beat Perth in Perth was a very good win at any stage of your career," he said.

"(That loss to Perth) was a wake-up call; getting embarrassed by them on our home court. From that moment we drew a line in the sand.

"We went to war.

"We did some weird stuff. We wrestled, did some MMA, and all sorts of stuff. It's starting to translate a little bit. We're playing harder; more physical."

Melbourne's streak comes despite losing star recruit Casey Prather and with David Andersen and Majok Majok both sidelined.

And yet their improvement since that round-seven hiding continues.

They conceded an average of 86 points per game for the first 10 games of the season. Since then, they've let in only 77ppg.

Many individual stats have improved also. Wesley is leading the way.

He averaged fewer than 10 points per game in those first 10, but has knocked in 14.5ppg since.

In those first 10 games he pulled in 15 rebounds. His next nine games, 27. In those first 10 games he contributed 16 assists. Since then, 40.

His coach, Dean Vickerman says the improvement since that Perth game has been noticeable across the entire roster.

"They kicked our arse and it was a great wake-up call for us," he said.

"We had two weeks in that FIBA window to understand that our physicality wasn't up to scratch and we weren't going to beat a New Zealand or a Perth if we didn't make a change there.

"We had to make a change."

"Most practicing now we come in and we rate ourselves on our physicality.

"We set some screens that were much better than we set last time; we dived on the floor; we did some of those things that were a lot tougher than what we played eight weeks ago."