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Bullets sink rival in NBL playoffs race

Brisbane Bullets coach Andre Lemanis rated Lamar Patterson the best all-round player in the NBL after the import steered his team within a win of playoffs qualification after sinking Melbourne United at Nissan Arena.

Patterson's 31 points, 12 rebounds and five assists hauled fourth-placed Brisbane back from a 13-point deficit in their 87-83 victory against their closest rival for the final playoffs spot.

Pundits have framed the league MVP race to be a battle between Cairns Taipan Scott Machado and Perth Wildcat Bryce Cotton.

Patterson had a slow start to the season but has been a beacon in Brisbane's six-game winning sequence that has positioned the team on the precipice of back to back finals series.

He's averaged 26 points from his past six games but his knack for shaping an outcome with a rebound, assist, foul shot, steal or even just pressure makes him great in Lemanis's eyes.

"He plays defence and the other thing I really appreciate with Lamar is what you see on game nights is how he practices," Lemanis said.

"The thing that makes players great is their ability to fit in with a group, make the team better, make the whole better the sum of individual parts.

"Lamar does that in multiple ways."

Brisbane centre Matt Hodgson rode the energy of the 4847 spectators to be Patterson's leading accomplice with 14 points and 13 rebounds.

Not even a game-high 36 points and six assists from guard Melo Trimble could save United from a 13th loss for the season.

Melbourne are now two wins behind the Bullets with three games remaining and would need Brisbane to crash spectacularly to qualify for the post-season.

"It's hard to be positive after than one. I'm pretty devo'd," United forward David Barlow said.

"Moving forward we have to look at the positives, look at what we did well and continue to strive for greatness in the way we attack things."

With so much at stake the players ramped up their competitiveness in an abrasive and snarly first quarter.

Brisbane dealt better with the niggle initially but had momentum ripped away from them by the introduction of Trimble off the bench.

Perhaps unhappy with his relegation to super-sub, the point guard erupted with 21 second-term points, the most in a quarter by any player this season, to drive United to a nine-point halftime lead.

Patterson led the comeback with a big third term and held United off in a frantic final quarter.

"It's good for us to go through that sort of game because that's a playoffs type intensity and environment and degree of difficulty," Lemanis said.

"If we can find a way to get into the playoffs those sorts of games will hold us in good stead."