NBL Finals: Melbourne United pip Adelaide 36ers in Game 3

Melbourne United have taken a 2-1 lead in the NBL grand final series after claiming a controversial 101-98 home victory over the Adelaide 36ers.

Adelaide's Majok Deng missed a game-tying three-pointer on Friday night in the final second after the visitors produced a 15-4 fourth-quarter run to chase down United's 13-point lead.

Tensions exploded at the end of the first half, Adelaide's Nathan Sobey clashing heads with Casey Prather after the United import hit a three-pointer on the stroke of halftime. The Adelaide guard was called for a disqualifying foul and ejected from the match.

There was further drama at the end of the game with players from both teams needing to be separated after the final buzzer.

Casper Ware scored a game-high 25 points with Prather adding 23 and Chris Goulding hitting three triples on the way to 15.

Ware powered United to an early double-digit lead with 10 first-quarter points and the home side looked in control, ahead 39-25, before Daniel Johnson inspired a Sixers comeback with nine points in a 14-0 run to erase Melbourne's lead.

Johnson led the Sixers with 20 points while Ramone Moore, starting in place of Josh Childress, scored 18 and Deng provided 16 points off the bench.

Adelaide must win game four at home on Sunday to keep their championship hopes alive and force a decider.

Ware opened the match showing no ill effects from the hip injury he suffered in game one, driving aggressively and finishing strongly at the rim to guide United to a 24-13 advantage.

Mitch Creek and Moore combined to close the gap, but late three-pointers to David Barlow and Prather allowed United to close the quarter ahead 33-22.

United's lead blew out to 14 points in the second term before Johnson triggered a stunning turnaround, completing a three-point play and nailing two triples, as the visitors reeled off 14 unanswered points to draw level.

Creek eventually gave Adelaide their first lead of the night but Prather's buzzer-beater tied the game again at halftime.

After the main break, Prather hit two technical free throws for United to open the third quarter in front and, with Goulding and Barlow connecting from long range, the home side gained the upper hand.

The hosts went ahead by nine but Shannon Shorter's triple as time expired cut the lead to six and set up a dramatic final quarter.