Melbourne United crush Wildcats in NBL

A dominant third-quarter performance from Melbourne United has guided the defending champions to an 82-65 victory over the Perth Wildcats on Monday night.

After a tight first half at Melbourne Arena, the home side outscored the ladder leaders 23-6 in the third quarter to take control of the contest.

Chris Goulding topped the scoring for United with 19 while Casper Ware (16), David Barlow (13) and Mitch McCarron (12) made valuable contributions to help end their two-match losing streak.

Melbourne made a fast start, hitting three early triples in an 11-0 spurt, but struggled on offence through the rest of the opening half.

But United turned up the heat after halftime as Perth's offence faltered, only making two-of-15 third-quarter shots for Melbourne to take an 18-point lead into the final quarter.

Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman was pleased to see his squad respond at the defensive end after returning from the FIBA break with two losses against Brisbane.

"We were able to creep through a few wins before the break but coming out of it, I thought the leaders were really good in their meeting the other day in identifying that we had been poor defensively and just owning that one," Vickerman said.

Nick Kay (15) and Mitch Norton (12) led the way for the Wildcats while Bryce Cotton, the league leader in points per game, was held to a season-low 11 points.

Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson labelled his side's performance as their worst for the season with United making them pay for a soft start to the game.

"I think we scored the first two points and then it was 11-2 (down)," Gleeson said.

"There were a few soft turnovers, some fumbles - we didn't really put our stamp on the game at the start."

Perth (11-4) remain in top spot on the NBL ladder but consecutive losses to Melbourne (10-5) and Sydney (9-4) has reduced their lead in the minor premiership race.