One quarter when Adelaide "lost its personality" proved fatal last night as Melbourne United scorched the 36ers 98-87 in their NBL home opener on Brett Maher Court.
"You give up 16 O boards (offensive rebounds) and you can't control the tempo," Sixers coach Joey Wright said.
Adelaide gave up eight offensive rebounds in just the first quarter as United established it was not going to repeat last Sunday's errors when the Sixers won 87-79 in Melbourne.
Losing captain Mitch Creek inside the first seven minutes to injury only further added to the 36ers' woes, despite Jerome Randle and Terrance Ferguson knocking down a pair of three-pointers apiece to be just 22-23 down after one.
United swingman Todd Blanchfield blew a giant hole in the Sixers' aspirations with two three-pointers early in the second period which opened the door to push the lead into double-digits.
His third triple for the quarter achieved it at 43-32 and Adelaide's offence was looking limited, only Daniel Johnson now a consistent threat.
Tai Wesley also caused havoc from outside and inside, a dunk by Devin Williamis and a strong drive by Ramone Moore to finish the half leaving the 36ers a long way back at 39-55.
When Chris Goulding, who had just two points off a steal and lay-up at the interval, opened the third with a three, Adelaide was in a bucketload of trouble.
The lead bled out to 24 when Nate Tomlinson shot an open three before Nathan Sobey ignited an unlikely fightback that brought the near capacity crowd to full voice.
Sobey stroked a three, then completed a three-point play before a steal and dunk in 62 seconds of sizzling basketball.
Unfortunately, perhaps over-enthused, he threw himself on the floor on the next play, copped a flopping technical foul and when Moore opened the final period with a triple for an 83-61 buffer, Adelaide looked cooked.
But Sobey again took flight, sticking a three and suddenly Eric Jacobsen came to life, scoring eight of his 10 points as Adelaide produced a 12-2 explosion, capped by Majok Deng's three.
At 12 down and six minutes to play, the Arena was rocking, Melbourne tightening up by the second and when Sobey stuck a three for 87-92 with 75 seconds left, it was deafening.
With 23.6 seconds left, Johnson muffed a pressure lay-up and from there, Adelaide had to foul to stop the clock and the margin blew back out to a better reflection of the game, the 32-17 second period decisive.
"Mitch did something to his foot, strained some ligaments," Wright said of his captain, who played just 6:34 and is doubtful for tomorrow's match with the Bullets in Brisbane.
"I was happy with our second half and the way we came back, and particularly with our young guys.
"But we lost our personality at the start and didn't do the things we're good at."
MELBOURNE UNITED 98 (Wesley 18, Blanchfield 17, Moore 14, Goulding 13, Andersen 12) d ADELAIDE 36ERS 87 (Randle 20, Sobey 15, Ferguson, Johnson 13, Jacobsen 10).