NBL ladder as at 31 December 2017.

Melbourne’s winning streak turns the top two into a top three, but Perth is slightly ahead of the pack. Meanwhile, Illawarra moves into fifth at the expense of the Queensland teams.

Melbourne United moved into a share of second place after week 12 of the NBL season after defeating the Sydney Kings 103-79 on Saturday. United’s win is its fifth straight overall and its third straight over the Kings this season.

United dominated the game after halftime, outscoring the home team 59-33 in the latter two quarters. Import Casper Ware finished with 26 points for Melbourne, while Jerome Randle also posted 26 for the Kings, who remain in last place on the ladder with a 5-14 win-loss record.

Perth leapfrogged New Zealand to move into outright first place, beating the Cairns Taipans 83-68 in front of a sold-out Cairns Convention Centre crowd. The Wildcats jumped out to a 14-point lead at the first change and led the rest of the way despite a late Taipans run closing the gap to 5 points in the final term. Bryce Cotton led the visitors with 23 points on 9/16 shooting, while Alex Loughton also posted 23 points for Cairns.

New Zealand only played one game in week 12, losing 88-85 to the Adelaide 36ers in Adelaide. The home team led most of the way but the Breakers were able to tie the score several times in the final quarter before a three-pointer from Nathan Sobey put the 36ers up for good with 2:31 remaining. Sobey finished with 15 while guard Shannon Shorter (23) was the high scorer for Adelaide. Edgar Sosa led New Zealand with 24.

Illawarra moved to within a game of the fourth-placed 36ers, winning both their home games in week 12. The Hawks came back to defeat Cairns 106-102 in a tight game on Thursday night. Neither team had control of the game until the final siren, with the Hawks only able to push the lead out as far as 8 in the third quarter. Demitrius Conger was the Hawks’ leading scorer with 24, while Alex Loughton posted 22 points and guard Scoochie Smith had 21 for Cairns.

The Hawks followed that up with a win over Brisbane on New Year’s Eve, downing the Bullets 104-82 after a dominant fourth quarter. Illawarra held the visitors to just 10 points in the final 10 minutes to record their third win over Brisbane in three starts this season. Demitrius Conger was again the high scorer for Illawarra with 24 points, 8 assists and 8 rebounds to lead the Hawks, with guard Travis Trice top-scoring for Brisbane with 32.

Week 13 of the season starts on Thursday with Adelaide hosting Perth at Titanium Security Arena.