Sydney Kings coach Andrew Gaze is looking at home clashes with Melbourne United as an opportunity to reverse a lengthy losing streak against their interstate rival.
The Kings came agonisingly close to ending an eight-match losing sequence against United after fighting back in the final quarter at Melbourne Arena on Saturday to lead in the closing stages.
But Mitch McCarron's late offensive tip-in with 2.4 seconds on the clock handed United the 84-82 victory, allowing them to celebrate veteran David Barlow's 250th NBL appearance in style.
"It was a far better spectacle than our first game a couple of weeks ago but unfortunately the good guys came out on the wrong side of it," Sydney coach Andrew Gaze said.
After two unsuccessful trips to Melbourne this season, Gaze is looking forward to matching up with them again in the harbour city, with fixtures scheduled next month and again in February.
"We get (them) a couple of times at our place and they are a bit of a bogey team for us right now," he said.
"We've got to find a formula and we feel like we are getting better and we've got a lot more to give."
The duel between marquee point guards Jerome Randle (35 points, five three-pointers) and Casper Ware (23 points, six assists) was a major highlight.
They engaged in a series of verbal stoushes during a heated second quarter as United reeled in an early Kings lead.
"It's a man's game out there and there is nothing that is going to get out of hand as we are actually close friends," Randle said.
"We are going to compete and try to knock each other's heads off if we have to but let us play basketball."
United assistant and former New Zealand Breakers head coach Paul Henare took charge of the team after Dean Vickerman had a wisdom tooth removed.
Henare gave credit to his squad for responding when Sydney reeled off 10 unanswered points to grab a three-point lead with less than two minutes to play.
"We've had a few games lately where we've been able to close out well and get the result," Henare said.
"They didn't let that (Sydney) run get to them, didn't get their heads down, they just kept searching for ways and (McCarron) made an outstanding play to get us over the line."