South East Melbourne have ended a four-game losing streak against fierce NBL rivals Melbourne United in emphatic fashion with a comprehensive 84-69 victory in the local derby.
United entered Saturday's matchup at John Cain Arena boasting a 12-5 overall record in Throwdown clashes and seeking a fifth successive win over their crosstown foes.
But the Phoenix turned the tables by recording their largest win over United with Mitch Creek (23 points, nine rebounds) continuing his outstanding season, while Alan Williams (18 points, 15 rebounds) and Gary Browne (16 points, 11 assists) each completed double-doubles.
South East Melbourne closed a scrappy opening half with a 7-0 run to build a 39-32 lead then piled on 17 unanswered points in the third quarter to put the result beyond doubt as United struggled to find scoring options outside of Chris Goulding and Rayjon Tucker.
Phoenix coach Simon Mitchell felt his side restored some pride after bouncing back from a 25-point loss to United 13 days earlier at the same venue, as well as a road loss in Perth on Thursday night.
"I thought there was a bit of a sting in the tail coming from some bad defensive lapses in the game against Perth. So there was a little point to prove and that was good to see the boys respond," Mitchell said.
United appeared to be building some momentum prior to the FIBA break but with Shea Ili sidelined again with concussion symptoms, coach Dean Vickerman's team have now crashed to disappointing losses against Adelaide and the Phoenix.
"It has been a constant theme without Shea Ili, I think our offence looks so much different when he's in the basketball game for us," Vickerman said about the absence of the New Zealand international and reigning NBL best sixth man.
"(Ili's) our point guard, he's our leader, he knows our stuff and I just don't think we've quite got that from other people at the moment."
New import centre Marcus Lee played 17 minutes in his debut after replacing Jordan Caroline but a lack of bench scoring outside of veteran Brad Newley also contributed to Melbourne's underwhelming performance.
With the scores level at 32-32 in the final two minutes of the first half, South East Melbourne made their move with Reuben Te Rangi sinking a triple and Creek adding two layups to give the Phoenix a buffer at the main break.
Goulding made a promising start to the second half for United but the strength of Williams and Creek under the basket kick-started the decisive third-quarter run for the Phoenix, while Ryan Broekhoff drilled back-to-back three-pointers as the lead stretched into double digits.