Written for nbl.com.au by Liam Santamaria
A trio of gutsy comebacks highlighted an eventful Round 13 – a weekend full of big-time players making big-time plays, more surprising results and, of course, plenty of studs and duds.
Melo Trimble (Cairns Taipans)
With his mum paying a visit from the States, Trimble poured in a massive 74 points across Round 13, connecting on a flat-out ridiculous 13-of-17 from long range.
Wheeling and dealing off the dribble, the talented point(s) guard was borderline unstoppable for most of the weekend as he sliced his way to the cup and made it rain from outside.
In WA, Trimble lit up the Wildcats for 32 points – the highest score ever by a Taipans player in Perth.
Two days later he was at it again, making his first 11 field goal attempts on his way to 42 points against Melbourne – the highest individual score in the NBL this season.
“I felt like I couldn’t miss,” Trimble commented postgame.
“I’m a confident player so when shots are falling like that I’m gonna keep shooting it. If I miss one I’ll take another one.
“I’ve never started out 11-for-11 so that‘s pretty amazing for me.”
Unfortunately, Trimble’s massive scoring night wasn’t enough to get the W as the champs pulled off a miraculous comeback to claim victory in OT.
Part of Melbourne’s fightback involved slowing down Trimble, something they achieved by switching Mitch McCarron onto him, denying him catches, being more aggressive in pick-and-roll coverages and showing more of a crowd on penetration.
Nonetheless, Trimble’s performance deserves all kinds of love. Especially this move, which sat Casper Ware on the hardwood.
— NBL (@NBL) January 13, 2019
“He had a fantastic game,” Melbourne coach Dean Vickerman said.
“I heard his mum was in town and any time imports have their mum in town they always put in a good performance so we were certainly wary of him.”
Trimble was happy to acknowledge the impact of his mum, Kim, being in the crowd.
“Having her here is special,” Trimble said.
“She hasn’t been able to see me play in person this whole year so her being here means a lot to me.
“She came to all my games at Maryland and I played well there. So obviously she was here (tonight) and I played well… it reminded me of when I was back at home.”
Melo Trimble’s 74 points in Round 13 is the most by a player in a single round since 2006 (Carlos Powell had 127 across 3 games) and how about that 3 point shooting clip?!? ?#NBL19 By the Numbers powered by @Latrobe ? pic.twitter.com/m4YJPDLji4
— NBL (@NBL) January 14, 2019
Melbourne fell into an almighty hole against Trimble and the Snakes but credit where it’s due, the champs showed tremendous resilience to steal that game.
The robbery came on the back of an incredible 21-0 run that spanned the final three minutes of regulation as well as the first few minutes of overtime.
Twenty-one freaking points! It was a run that included ten consecutive stops as United parlayed elite defensive intensity into big-time shot-making down the other end.
“When you’re in that deep a hole you need a lot of things to go right,” Vickerman explained.
“But to hold them to 9 points in the fourth quarter and then the start that we got in overtime was encouraging.”
Ware was very clutch, scoring 25 of his team-high 27 in the second half and overtime, Dave Barlow (24) was influential and Josh Boone (15 & 15) double-doubled, prompting the big fella to jump on his phone postgame…
— Josh Boone (@The_Real_JBizzy) January 13, 2019
The win snapped a two-game skid for United and helped them hold on to second-spot in the ever-fluctuating NBL standings.
Speaking of comebacks, how about them Bullets?!
Trailing Adelaide by 9 at three-quarter-time, Brisbane reeled off a remarkable 23-2 run to begin the final term, leading to a very handy road win over a fellow finals contender.
The Bullets have shown an ability to fight back from difficult situations this season; a resilience that stems from their considerable veteran experience, high basketball IQ and great team chemistry.
Head coach Andrej Lemanis believes it’s also a result of their depth, something he considers to be his squad’s greatest strength.
“We can play eleven guys deep and that enables us to sustain a level and an energy over the course of forty minutes,” he explained.
“We don’t need to get too stressed as the game unfolds as long as we keep playing with that energy, particularly at the defensive end.”
They’re definitely deep but the Bullets are led by a genuine stud, Lamar Patterson, who fell just short of a triple double in the win with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists.
“He’s a hell of a basketball player, there’s no doubt, we love him,” Lemanis remarked about Patterson.
“We love his ability to create and make plays for others, he doesn’t just shoot the ball a thousand times. He plays within the system. He helps us win.”
Honourable mentions to Cam Gliddon (22 points), Cam Bairstow (20 points and 7 boards) and Matt Hodgson (13 points, 12 rebounds) who also had big games.
Anyone wanna play Brisbane in the finals?
Demitrius Conger (Adelaide 36ers)
Big Meech was large this week as he put together back-to-back impressive performances.
In Adelaide’s win over the Hawks, last year’s runner-up MVP filled the box score against his former team, notching up 19 points, 6 boards, 5 assists and 4 steals.
Against Brisbane, Conger was also a handful, scoring 25 points, grabbing another 6 boards and throwing 3 assists.
Oh and cop this: across Adelaide’s two games, Conger connected on 17 of his 24 field goal attempts, missing just one shot against Illawarra and going 10-of-16 against the Bullets.
He’s good to go the rest of the way.
Emmett Naar (Illawarra Hawks)
The Hawks had a number of very good contributors across their 1-1 weekend but it was their rookie PG who was the catalyst for their super-impressive win over Sydney.
Naar drew confidence from knocking down his first shot – a wide open three – and from there he went to work on the Kings off the dribble.
Making excellent reads off the on-ball, Naar put his entire offensive arsenal on display as he punished Sydney’s D with runners, fade-aways, pull-ups, high-arching finger-rolls and even a sweet-looking floater.
The Rook was sizzling like a Bunnings Sausage Sanga ♨️
— NBL (@NBL) January 13, 2019
“That was one of the best performances for a young point guard,” Hawks head coach Rob Beveridge remarked postgame.
“Against (Jerome) Randle, (Kevin) Lisch, (Kyle) Adnam and a quality team, he was just awesome tonight.”
OK… where should we start?
The third import decision? Their lack of production from the bench? Their sputtering offence?
Actually, you know what? I think I’m just gonna leave this one up to Trevor Gleeson as the Wildcats coach summed things up pretty well following Friday’s home loss to the Snakes.
“It’s a crossroads for us right now, it really is,” Gleeson said.
“I love our group but we’re not playing as hard and as ferocious as we should… the chemistry’s good, the guys like each other, there’s no breakdown of the group or anything but now we’re really tested.
“We’re going to find out what we’re made of in these last eight games.”
They sure are.
WEC Shot Clock
These things happen, yes, but nobody can deny the impact the shot clock issue had on last Thursday’s game between Illawarra and Adelaide.
The Hawks were rolling when the shot clock stopped working early in the second quarter and the lengthy delay completely halted their momentum.
Illawarra’s 9 point lead gradually disappeared after play resumed and with Adelaide using the lack of clock to their advantage late in the quarter, the margin was just 2 at half-time.
“It changed how we were doing things,” Beveridge admitted postgame.
“Down the stretch they ran a 40-second offence. I was asked if it was right or wrong. Joey did nothing wrong, he was just playing by the rules because there was no damn shot clock.
“It did throw us. It changed the game plan, it changed the flow. You’re sitting around for a long period of time for some technical issue which was pretty frustrating.”
Corey Webster (New Zealand Breakers)
If the Breakers are going to make the finals, it cannot be just the Long & Wesley show. Especially in crunch time.
What they really need is for Corey Webster to step up.
Webster is currently ranked 28th for scoring on the season and, after a good showing in Adelaide in Round 12, hasn’t really been able to get it going over his last two.
Against Perth last week C-Web put up a donut and this week, while he did have 4 assists, Webster failed to score in double-digits for the sixth time across his past nine games.
Webster says his hip is feeling better and he looks to be moving well. You’ve got to think a breakout is just around the corner.
Jacob Wiley (Adelaide 36ers)
Another super talent who will be looking to step up this week is Adelaide’s excitement machine Jacob Wiley.
With the race to the finals heating up, the 36ers have lost two of their last three games with both of those losses coming at home to other fringe playoff squads.
Across those three, Wiley has averaged just 6 points and 2 boards per game and has notched up a combined plus/minus of -30.
Sensing a need to change things up, Joey Wright actually brought Wiley in off the bench this week.
“Jacob’s totally fine,” Wright said following Saturday’s loss to Brisbane.
“We’re just trying to mix the line-up to get those guys a few more attempts. Instead of having all our scorers log the same minutes we’re just trying to get some of our scorers mixed up so they can get a few more buckets.”
Unfortunately the plan didn’t entirely work in terms of Wiley, who put up just 4 points in Wollongong and 8 against the Bullets (while grabbing a combined total of 5 boards).
With Majok Deng (rib) banged up and Ramone Moore (calf) potentially out for the season, now is the time for Wiley to get himself going again.
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