Melbourne United has taken another step toward the NBL minor premiership after closing out a 69-61 home win over the Brisbane Bullets.
The ladder leaders ground out a tight final quarter with the Bullets closing the margin to four points in the final minute but held on to move two wins clear of second-placed Perth with four matches left in their regular season.
United imports Casper Ware and Josh Boone combined for 14 third-quarter points to settle the home side and Chris Goulding held his nerve with four late free throws to close out the win.
Ware led United with 17 points and Boone added 15 points and 12 rebounds while Tai Wesley (14 points, eight boards and five assists) provided valuable support.
Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman was pleased with his side's defensive effort but felt that missed opportunities in attack left them vulnerable to Brisbane's late fightback.
"Holding the best offensive efficiency team in the league to low 30s (shooting) percentage-wise, you are going to take that every day," Vickerman said.
"We were just disappointed that getting that many stops, we weren't able to convert that into points going the other way."
Brisbane struggled in attack with gun import Travis Trice (elbow) missing, but Daniel Kickert kept the visitors in the contest with 10 second-quarter points and a Reuben Te Rangi triple with 49 seconds kept the Bullets in the game.
Kickert finished with 17 points while former United guard Stephen Holt chipped in with 11 points.
"Certainly we had our struggles putting the ball in the basket," Brisbane coach Andrej Lemanis said.
He said a combination of poor shot selection and missing open shots contributed to the Bullets' offensive woes.
The home side found themselves under pressure in the fourth quarter as Perrin Buford hit consecutive baskets for Brisbane, and Adam Gibson cut the gap to four points from the free throw line after being fouled on a three-point attempt.
But the Bullets could get no closer with Wesley and Ware keeping the home side in front. Melbourne United now prepare for a vital home clash with New Zealand Breakers on Friday night, while Brisbane host the Illawarra Hawks on Thursday.