The new-look Adelaide 36ers kicked off their NBL season with a confidence-boosting 84-61 victory over the Melbourne Tigers in a fiery contest at Adelaide Arena on Sunday.
Tempers reached boiling point late in the third quarter when a solid challenge on Mitch Creek left him on his backside and sparked a 10-man tussle.
The referees struggled to separate the angry mass and legs and then infuriated the crowd by ejecting Anthony Petrie, along with Melbourne's Chris Goulding, for their part in the scrap.
Adelaide's new-found depth was on display with the side's bench players offering scoring options which have been sorely lacking in previous seasons.
Daniel Johnson was the 36ers' best with 21 points and nine rebounds while Stephen Weigh added 21 points at an impressive 67 per cent field goal shooting.
Petrie was in good touch with 13 points before his game ended prematurely.
For the Tigers, Seth Scott collected 17 points, while Kevin Braswell and Lucas Walker chimed in with 11 each.
Melbourne got off to a bright start with Scott nailing his shots, and the visitors' defence was making life difficult in the Sixers' key.
Adelaide rallied late to steal the lead but a Walker dunk with seconds left on the clock saw Melbourne leading by a point.
Both teams showcased their outside game earlier in the second with the 36ers edging in front thanks a hat-trick of three-pointers.
Walker proved the go-to man for the Tigers again, his late shot from outside the arc pegging the margin back to 44-41 at half-time.
Adam Gibson increased his influence on the game in the third quarter and the home side took control thanks to a shared scoring load and a spectacular dunk by Creek.
Despite the disruption of Petrie's ejection, the Sixers went into the final change leading by nine points and charged home with a 19-5 fourth quarter.
It was a disappointing conclusion for Melbourne, which fought hard for three quarters but dropped away from its game plan when a response was needed.
AAPTags: nbl, basketball, sport, adelaide-5000, sa, melbourne-3000, vic, australia First posted October 07, 2012 17:24:31