Hungry Jack's NBL
Wildcats Make a Statement Over Kings
The Perth Wildcats answered in emphatic fashion any questions over still being in the #NBL20 title hunt piling on 70 points in the first half in a remarkable Bryce Cotton-led display to beat the Sydney Kings 96-77.
The Wildcats had given up an 18-0 run in Cairns two weeks ago in the fourth quarter on the back of suffering a record home loss to the Taipans earlier in the season.
They then found themselves down 27 at one point last Sunday also at RAC Arena to the Adelaide 36ers and despite still sitting in second spot, needed to respond hosting the league-leading Kings on Friday.
Sydney arrived clear on top at 11-1 with captain Kevin Lisch returning but it was a Perth team that just wouldn’t be denied and by half-time the defending champs had left no doubt they remain a title fancy this season.
Their 70 points in the opening half was the best in the 40-minute NBL era and with a 70-45 half-time advantage, the was game effectively over. Perth had shot 57.4 per cent from the field and went 9/14 from deep on top of 12 offensive boards and winning the rebound count 25 to 12.
At the half, Cotton had 20 points (finished with 27) for Perth while Terrico White had 14 (20) and Nick Kay 14 to go with eight rebounds (19 and 13). When the Big 3 have fired this season, the 'Cats have been tough to stop.
Clint Steindl also had 11 points (13) with three triples and the Kings were left lost for answers for the first time this season.
They played out a scrappy second half with Sydney narrowly winning it 32-26 as the gap closed between the top two teams on the table.
Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson was just happy with the aggressive attitude opposed to the earlier 19-point loss in Sydney this season.
"The guys were doing great getting each other open looks, setting great screens, moving the ball and being aggressive out there," Gleeson said.
"We didn’t settle for jump shots against these guys like last time, we actually got in the paint and our offence was ticking out there."
Casper Ware top-scored with 13 points for the Kings with Andrew Bogut adding 12 points and eight rebounds, Jae'Sean Tate 11 points before fouling out and Shaun Bruce 10 points and four assists.
Captain Lisch returned by playing 17 minutes and while didn’t score, had a rebound, assist and steal, and will be better for the run.
Sydney coach Will Weaver experienced The Jungle for the first time in charge of the Kings and now sees why it has the reputation it does in a number of areas.
"They started the game with the intensity I imagine comes from a player's only meeting as is their custom," Weaver said.
"They are the defending champs and know they lost two in-a-row, and they know they have to make these home games count. They have a huge advantage here and they brought that kind of energy to the offensive boards.
"They are the best offensive team in the league and the stats back me up on that, and we talked a lot about that over the week.
"We just didn’t execute in that phase of the game and in my opinion, that was why they were able to get a big lead, and then some marginal other things happened on the periphery. That was the entrée for sure."
Casper Ware knocking down two early threes for Sydney wasn’t a great sign for Perth bouncing back, but Bryce Cotton made sure it wasn’t a problem with seven of his own points in the opening five minutes.
With Terrico White on board too with the other seven, Perth was up 14-11 and with Clint Steindl adding a punch off the bench and Cotton finishing with a buzzer-beating runner, the home team was up 30-27 after one.
There would be no let up from a 'Cats team wanting to make a statement. They started the second term with a seven-point Cotton run before Damian Martin knocked down a three and the margin ballooned to 13.
Perth would go on another 10-3 run only interrupted by a Brad Newley three with the lead soon 20. The Wildcats then finished the half with Cotton again hitting on the buzzer and the Wildcats became the first team in a 40-minute game to put up 70 first half points to lead by 25.
Cotton then added five more points to start the second half to put Perth up 75-45 and to give him 25. The 'Cats would only score those points in the first five minutes and just 11 points for the term. But Sydney only added 12 so it mattered little.
The two teams were just playing out time in the fourth term with Sydney outscoring Perth 20-15.
Both teams have a short turnaround to play on Sunday with the Wildcats heading to Melbourne to face the fresh South East Melbourne Phoenix while the Kings host the emerging Cairns Taipans at Qudos Bank Arena.
NBL ROUND 10
PERTH WILDCATS 96 (Cotton 27, White 20, Kay 19)
SYDNEY KINGS 77 (Ware 13, Bogut 12, Tate 11)