Melbourne United have underlined their NBL championship credentials with a comprehensive and heated 114-91 triumph over the Adelaide 36ers.
After scores were tied at half-time, United gained the upper hand in the third term before absolutely mincing their arch rivals 32-16 in a stunning fourth-quarter procession at Titanium Security Arena.
Imports Josh Boone (19 points, 10 rebounds), DJ Kennedy (16, nine) and Mitch McCarron (16) proved a handful while star guards Casper Ware and Chris Goulding (16 each) were pivotal when it mattered after both were quiet in the opening half.
Nathan Sobey (24 points) had a genuine crack, as did Jack McVeigh (eight offensive boards) but the Sixers had too many passengers and let themselves down after the match as tempers flared on the court.
Adelaide development player Bijan Johnson, who had two fouls in 77 seconds of play, appeared to shove Kennedy during post-game handshakes which sparked a melee and forced security to usher Melbourne's players into their rooms.
The home side was hesitant offensively, connecting at 33 percent in the opening stanza, while at the other end United repeatedly picked holes in Adelaide's defence, shooting 68 percent.
Goulding drilled a late three to bump Melbourne's advantage to 31-20 at quarter time but the visitors lost their way midway through the second term.
In the space of 16 seconds, Ware was whistled for two quick fouls and a technical for clapping in the referees' direction as Adelaide went on an 8-0 run.
McVeigh hustled six first-half offensive boards -- as many as Melbourne -- while Sobey's 13-point quarter, highlighted by a monster slam off Bruce's bullet bounce pass and a buzzer-beating triple from the corner, saw the 36ers tie the game at 48-48 at half-time.
Sobey's powerful three-point play gave the Sixers their first lead of the night before United again seized the initiative and swelled their lead out to 11 points after Ware sparked a stunning 14-0 burst inside two minutes.
The visitors were ahead 82-75 at three-quarter-time before Goulding, who had scored only seven points across the first three terms, drilled three threes in the opening three minutes of the fourth to blow the margin out to 101-78, leaving the fifth-placed 36ers completely shellshocked and their finals hopes in doubt.
Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman praised his team's fast start and hard-nosed defence.
"There was a real focus on first quarters for us our last few games," he said.
"We were good against Illawarra (last Wednesday) and good again tonight.
"Three games in a row we've held teams under 40 percent in field goal percentage. Our defence is really getting better."
Adelaide coach Joey Wright acknowledged United's fourth-quarter flurry was too hot for his side to handle.
"A few of those shots they hit, our hands were in their face," he said.
"You can't make someone miss.
"They (United) made plays and knocked shots down."