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NBL: 36ers roar back into contention

OUTSTANDING games by Anthony Drmic and Dan Dillon in support of star import Jerome Randle tonight saw the 36ers unravel South East Melbourne in Melbourne, ending the club's four-game NBL losing skid.

Adelaide's drive to join likely finallists Sydney, Perth and Melbourne in the Final Four received a huge boost courtesy of the 103-91 road win, with the Phoenix one of the key teams in the mix for the coveted fourth spot.

And on what the 36ers showed tonight, they should start red-hot favourites on Friday at The Armoury against another playoffs wannabe in Brisbane, the season possibly turning for Adelaide courtesy of its Fire Pit performance.

Coach Joey Wright saw the signs of a form lift in Friday's four-point loss to defending champion Perth, tinkering with his lineup tonight by starting Brendan Teys and Obiri Kyei in place of Ramone Moore and Eric Griffin.

The move immediately paid dividends, Randle opening the scoring, followed by Drmic, Randle then icing two free throws for a 6-0 lead in a match where Adelaide would never surrender the lead and South East Melbourne never taste it.

Add the fact key Sixers "big" Daniel Johnson did not score until the second half and finished with a season low seven, and it is easy to recognise Wright had others step up in all the key moments.

Drmic's 21-point return was a career high and Randle's 15-point first period the best single-quarter tally of his entire NBL career, en route to a game-high 27.

Dillon came off the bench for 14 points in 22 minutes - both his best returns as a 36er - and he shot it at 67 percent.

Adelaide buried 8-of-13 threes with Randle alight for 5-of-6, the Sixers shooting 54 percent from the floor, nailing 21-of-24 free throws and winning the rebounds 42-35.

Mitch Creek again led Phoenix from the front with 22 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals, John Roberson with 21 points and six assists.

Creek opened South East's scoring with a tip-in but Teys scored consecutive baskets before adding an assist for a Randle 3-pointer and 13-4 buffer.

That forced a Simon Mitchell timeout and drew a 7-0 response before Randle swished a jumper, then another three for 18-11.

Roberson's 3-point make was immediately erased by another Randle triple, Kyle Adnam inserted and providing some spark for Phoenix as they drew level at 22-22.

Dillon and Eric Griffin (17 points at 50 percent, 9-of-12 free throws, seven rebounds, five assists, two steals) free throwed (free threw?) the lead back to 26-22, Jaye Crockett's foul shots slicing two off Phoenix's deficit.

Drmic opened the second quarter full of pluck and while Crockett's explosive slam dunk brought the Phoenix phans to life, Drmic again hit key shots to pull Adelaide to 40-31, then 42-31.

Kyei had the lead out to 44-31 and with 1:40 to halftime, Drmic drove for a 50-35 buffer, his 10-point quarter arguably his single-period all-time best offensive display in the NBL.

Johnson scored his first bucket of the game at 8:36 in the third and when Kyei scored at 8:18, Adelaide was ahead 54-38, its 16-point lead the biggest it has enjoyed against anyone all season.

Another SEM timeout ignited a 9-0 run capped by a slick play in which Roberson passed the ball between Griffin's legs to Dane Pineau who flipped it to a cutting Creek for a super slam.

Phoenix kept coming and closed it to four on Keith Benson's basket at 56-60, threes by Randle and Harry Froling again a quality reply before Ben Madgen scored a triple ahead of the last break, Adelaide ahead 71-66.

Roberson made it interesting by starting the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer but the game was there for the winning when Adam Gibson iced a triple with 6:54 left to bring South East to within a point at 77-78.

Dillon's free throws brought 36ers respite again before Drmic splashed a three in transition for 83-77. Madgen grabbed a cutting Drmic's uniform for an automatic unsportsmanlike foul and Drmic's free throws made it 85-77.

Creek made a strong move inside to keep a spark of life in Phoenix but Johnson coolly nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key for 88-79 and this was over.

And just in case anyone was in any doubt, Randle then swished a monster 3-pointer from the Chemist Warehouse logo for 91-79.

Adelaide's defensive strategies, mixing in a lot of zone pressure, worked a treat, Dillon still with six points to come and Drmic (pictured) breaking the century for the 36ers in a high-quality victory.

ADELAIDE 36ERS 103 (Randle 27, Drmic 21, Griffin 17, Dillon 14; Drmic 8 rebs; Griffin 5 assts) d SOUTH EAST MELBOURNE PHOENIX 91 (Creek 22, Roberson 21, Madgen 14, Crockett 13; Creek 11 rebs; Roberson 6 assts) at the Fire Pit, Melbourne Arena. Crowd: 2,893

Nov 18

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.