Hungry Jack's NBL
Wildcats Scorch Bullets in Second Half
The Perth Wildcats have strengthened their push to return home in a few days on top of the NBL delivering a stunning 22-2 run to start the second half to beat the Brisbane Bullets 95-83 at Nissan Arena on Saturday.
Buoyed by their win over Melbourne United on Thursday, the Wildcats had to take the best shot from the Bullets who went at 54 per cent in the opening half to lead by five at the break.
But the 'Cats responded with 22 of the first 24 points with Bryce Cotton leading the way with nine of his 22 points for the game coming in the third quarter to set up the eventual 12-point win even after a brief fourth-quarter Bullets flurry.
It means the Wildcats could still return home after playing the New Zealand Breakers on Monday for the final nine games of their season at RAC Arena on top of the ladder should they win that game and Melbourne loses to South East Melbourne Phoenix on Sunday.
Vic Law produced 24 points, eight rebounds and three assists on 10/15 shooting against his old team for the Wildcats to go with Cotton's 22 points, five boards and three assists.
Todd Blanchfield also had 13 points, Mitch Norton 12 and Michael Frazier nine in a welcome return to the scoresheet.
Wildcats coach Scott Morrison didn't like much about his team's first half, but had faith they'd find a way to turn it around as they did in the third quarter.
"I was really happy with the third quarter, that was probably one of our better defensive quarters of the season. Unfortunately we needed that to get back into the game and I didn’t think we came out ready to play," Morrison said.
"We made some mistakes of effort in the first half which are kind of inexcusable. It's one thing to make a mistake of execution, but you can't make an effort mistake. I got on the guys a little bit, but I didn’t have to say much because they got on themselves and knew what was wrong.
"No matter what I said at half-time, they would have come out a lot stronger but obviously credit to Brisbane for putting a beating on us in that first half.
Robert Franks finished with 21 points and eight rebounds for Brisbane, Lamar Patterson 16 points, eight assists, five boards and three steals, Deng Deng 12 points and six rebounds, and Jason Cadee 11 points and five assists.
Bullets coach James Duncan couldn’t fault a lot of what Brisbane did in the first, second and fourth quarters, but knows a third term slip up like they had against a team like Perth will be costly.
"They're a very good team and we fell into the trap when we missed some open looks and I think we tried to force things a little bit maybe feeling the pressure of the moment," Duncan said.
"Obviously they cranked up their defence a little bit but it's nothing new from some of the teams that we've played. We just didn’t handle it the right way during that stretch. In saying that, we had 54 points in the paint and we went to the free-throw line 11 times.
"They had 44 points in the paint and they went to the free-throw line 27 times. That's something that we obviously can't control but I'm going to continue to tell our guys to attack the rim, and get on the rim and something positive will be happening."
Brisbane started well with the opening four points but Perth soon responded with their own 7-2 run capped off by a Vic Law three to lead 7-6.
Isaiah Moss then sparked the Bullets to score eight of the next 10 points, and Brisbane went on to narrowly lead 17-15 by quarter-time.
Perth got back on top early in the second period including Bryce Cotton draining a three-pointer for his first points in the game. Law then continued his strong first half on his old home floor to help Perth up three before Brisbane responded with a run of nine points.
Moss and Jason Cadee both hit three balls in that streak with Lamar Patterson battling hard on the offensive boards.
Cadee and Michael Frazier then traded triples with the Perth import scoring for the first time in four games, but the Bullets still led 47-42 by half-time despite Law scoring on the buzzer for the 'Cats.
It was a high quality first-half with both teams shooting over 50 per cent from the field and the Wildcats turned up the heat in the third quarter, and the Bullets couldn’t go with them.
The 'Cats shot out of the blocks with eight points in the first three minutes. Eventually Patterson scored for Brisbane, but Perth then scored the next 14 points in a remarkable start to the second half with Cotton at the forefront of everything.
That had Perth on top by 15 and still by 13 at three quarter-time but Brisbane weren’t quite done yet. The home team was able to score 10 straight points early in the fourth term to get back within five, but Perth had the answers.
Triples from Mitch Norton and Blanchfield were daggers and the Bullets couldn’t pull it back from there with the 'Cats going on to win by 12.
The Wildcats will now play their last road game of the season on Monday in Hobart against the New Zealand Breakers while the Bullets are next in action next Sunday at home to the Cairns Taipans.
HUNGRY JACK'S NBL ROUND 15
BRISBANE BULLETS 83 (Franks 21, Patterson 16, Deng 12)
PERTH WILDCATS 95 (Law 24, Cotton 22, Blanchfield 13)