Wildcats dominate second half to hammer Kings

The Perth Wildcats delivered a stunningly dominant second half on the road to maintain top spot on the NBL ladder with the 89-65 hammering of the Sydney Kings at Qudos Bank Arena on Sunday.

The Wildcats made it seven consecutive wins to improve to 13-4 on the season as they are chasing the club's first ever championship three-peat, and it was all sparked when Bryce Cotton decided to take over the game.

He was 0/5 from deep in the first half, but he knocked down three straight three-pointers in a minute and-a-half midway through the third quarter. That took Perth from trailing Sydney by three points to leading by six, and the Kings could do nothing to stop them.

Perth closed the third quarter with eight straight points before starting the fourth with another run of 19-4 to put the game right out of reach. 

From the time they trailed by three with six minutes left in the third quarter, the Wildcats outscored the Kings 36-6 in a remarkable display of basketball at both ends of the floor, including continuing to dominate the offensive glass. 

The Kings were able to finish with eight of the last 13 points.

It was quite the statement performance from the 'Cats in the first Grand Final rematch against the Kings on one their home floors, and they made it three consecutive wins at Qudos Bank Arena and the 24-point margin is quite the message to the rest of the league.

Pre-game, Kings coach Adam Forde pointed out one area and one area only they had to match the Wildcats in and that was rebounding. Well it didn’t happen with Perth outrebounding Sydney 51 to 32 including 19 offensive boards to seven for 16 second chance points to six.

That meant the 'Cats dominated the possession game to take 11 more field goals and 10 more free-throws which meant they could win by 24 even if shooting 39 per cent from the field.

Cotton was incredible again finishing with 29 points and four assists with 11 of those coming in six minutes of the third quarter to blow the game apart.

John Mooney delivered another 13 points and 17 rebounds for Perth with development player Luke Travers producing a career-best 16 points on the back of eight points in the last two minutes of the opening term.

Todd Blanchfield scored 11 points in his 300th NBL game with Mitch Norton finishing with 10 points, four rebounds and three assists while hounding Casper Ware.

Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson was delighted with the performance just some 40 hours having also had to fight hard to beat Illawarra in Perth on Friday.

"It was really good," Gleeson said.

"It was I think about from about the five-minute mark of the first quarter when we started to get a little bit of control of the game after they got out to the block pretty well, and they were eight points up at one stage. 

"Then we were able to get some good looks and we got some good energy from the guys coming off the bench which was fantastic."

Jarell Martin looked Sydney's best offensive threat and finished with 18 points while DJ Vasiljevic added 13 points and Jordan Hunter 10. Ware was held to just six points and six assists on 2/10 shooting.

Kings coach Adam Forde was frustrated that despite focusing on the rebound battle coming into the game, they were so soundly beaten in that area.

"Maybe in hindsight we might have tried to put too much emphasis on the rebounding coming into the game, but the reality of it is that when you play Perth, as a team you've got to rebound," Forde said.

"We gave up nine offensive rebounds in the first quarter and we did a better job in the second and it became a two-point game. We sustained it for a little bit for the most part again halfway through the third, but then we ceased up scoring and it goes hand in hand. 

"If we don’t get that rebound it denies us going into transition. Perth made this a half court game and our offence dried up because we were trying to get the ball into the post but it's all congested and we're trying to get DJ or Casper loose off on-balls, but it's congested. 

"We try to get out in the open court and move the ball, and flow into our offence, and we did that for about 22 minutes of the game but that starts by getting those rebounds. We're going to face them again and it will be the same message that if we don't get those rebounds we're not going to beat them."

Jordan Hunter was the man who sparked the Kings to start the game in an impressive start with three buckets against John Mooney, but the Wildcats steadied with a pair of threes to Todd Blanchfield in his 300th game.

Luke Travers then had his best patch of his NBL career with two threes and another bucket to close the first quarter and put Perth up 21-19 on the back of nine offensive rebounds to overcome going 5/16 from three.

Travers then opened the second term with a three-point play and when Bryce Cotton did the same minutes later, the 'Cats were up seven. But Sydney responded with the next seven points and by half-time the game was on the line with Perth up 46-44.

Cotton ensured that wasn’t the case for long. He hit a tough jumper to start the second half before knocking down a trifecta of three balls in the space of less than two minutes to take Perth from three points down to being up six.

Perth went on a 17-2 run to close that quarter and kept it going with another 13-2 to open the fourth quarter. After trailing by three 10 minutes earlier, suddenly they were up 23. That lead threw to 27 after a Mitch Norton three ball before settling at 24 on the final buzzer.

The Kings are now 9-9 having had their three-game winning streak snapped as they prepare to play the Illawarra Hawks in Wollongong on Thursday. The Wildcats will also host the New Zealand Breakers on Thursday.


SYDNEY KINGS 65 (Martin 18, Vasiljevic 13, Hunter 10)

PERTH WILDCATS 89 (Cotton 29, Travers 16, Mooney 13) 



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