Ware leads Kings past NBL rivals United

Matt Encarnacion
Sydney Kings guard Casper Ware scored a team-high 27 points in the win over Melbourne United

The Sydney Kings have shown why they are being widely tipped for the NBL title after registering an emphatic 111-101 victory over Melbourne United.

United are considered the most serious threat to the Kings claiming the crown, having been the only side to beat Will Weaver's men so far this season.

Melbourne had also won a remarkable 13 of their past 14 clashes.

But, led by star Casper Ware's 27 points and five assists, the Kings not only got their revenge against their arch rivals, but cemented top spot on the ladder.

Kings import Jae'Sean Tate chipped in with 25 points, while veteran Andrew Bogut added nine points, eight rebounds and three blocks.

United star Melo Trimble led his side with a game-high 32 points, but didn't get enough help from a side that have now dropped two in succession.

Sydney did most of the damage with a 61-point first-half, the most scored by any team so far this summer, for a 15-point lead at the main break.

But a 31-18 blitz in a testy third quarter ultimately proved the hammer blow, with the visitors clearing their bench in the fourth quarter for the 9512 crowd.

Weaver described it as one of their best offensive displays of the season so far.

"I felt like that's the best game of the year we've had, working to create shots for our teammates," he said post-game.

"Ultimately our offence is about space, unselfish play and trusting that our teammates are going to work hard for us the way we need to work hard for them.

"Our guys did a fantastic job of that."

Sydney put Melbourne on the back-foot from the tip-off with an aggression that resulted in 19 free throw attempts in the first quarter alone.

Tate provided the early highlight with a putback dunk, and almost topped it moments later with an audacious pass off the backboard for another.

But where Tate was ominous, Ware was dangerous.

The former MVP led both teams with 17 points at the half, spearheading the Kings to what was also their highest first-half total since re-entering the league.

United tried to up their physicality on the 29-year-old point guard after the break, with Chris Goulding hit with an unsportsmanlike foul for dragging Ware down.

But the former Melbourne guard had all the answers against his ex-teammates, finishing with an efficient 9-14 shooting.

Frustrated Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman, who was without key guard Shea Ili, conceded his team's inability to stop the Kings' attack was the difference.

"For a long part of it, we got our arse kicked today. What was the cause of it? Their ability to continue to just attack our bodies," Vickerman said.

"That was the biggest difference in the game to me, the continual heat off the rim and off-the-dribble attack. Fix that area and maybe it's a closer ball game today."