Goulding stars as United claw back to beat Kings in NBL

Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS

MVP candidate Chris Goulding hit eight three-pointers as Melbourne United chased down a 19-point lead and beat fellow heavyweights the Sydney Kings 105-93 in an NBL classic.

Sunday's pulsating home defeat of the back-to-back champions confirms United as the team to beat in NBL24 and has them three wins clear atop the ladder heading into the FIBA break.

Shooting the three-ball accurately and prolifically, the second-placed Kings went on a 20-5 run in the second quarter that helped them to a 19-point lead in the third.

When nothing was working for United and the injured Matthew Dellavedova and Ian Clark were being missed, wing Goulding (35 points, four assists) was the first man to steady the ship.

"He made tough shots and everyone supported him," United coach Dean Vickerman said.

Goulding hit back-to-back triples either side of a timeout in the second quarter that brought up 6000 career NBL points, though the 35-year-old was far from done.

With belief rising in the third quarter and the crowd working into the game, Luke Travers (18 points, 12 rebounds) became a willing co-pilot on his return from concussion.

As the midpoint of the final quarter approached, Goulding hit yet another three that tied the scores at 81 after the Kings had led since the first period.

Goulding had 13 points in the 40-21 final term, but it was fast-finishing Travers who sealed the game.

The forward charged through the paint for a lay-up that made it an 11-point game with 50 seconds remaining.

"There were a couple of times there where we could've packed up and said, 'this is too hard'," Goulding said.

"But credit to the guys that came in and provided great energy.

"Then we got some belief and it was like, 'hang on, let's do this thing. Let's sit down, let's guard, let's go the other way and win this game'."

The loss snaps Sydney's three-game winning streak and has their record at 7-4.

"We just weren't as physical in the second half," Kings coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah said.

"We just needed to do a better job of sharing the basketball.

"We had some guys make some tough shots but at the end of the day, playing as a collective group is what's gotten us to where we are."

American wing Denzel Valentine got the Kings going during their 31-17 quarter in his best game since joining the side this season.

He was ably assisted by Jonah Bolden (10 points, nine rebounds), who profited from the absence of injured Kings centre Jordi Hunter but found himself in foul trouble late.

Valentine (19 points, six rebounds, seven assists) was on track for a rare NBL triple-double at half-time.

He was so dominant that back-court partner and former league MVP Jaylen Adams didn't score at all until the third term.

But as Melbourne began clawing their way back, the Kings' accuracy from the field evaporated and Goulding got to work.