Wildcats and 36ers players confront each other in an ugly brawl during the match at Perth Arena.The NBL finals must be getting close.
The Perth Wildcats rediscovered their best form to demolish the Adelaide 36ers 111-90 in a fiery contest at the Perth Arena on Friday night that ended in a brawl, including both benches.
Some shoddy treatment by 36ers Brendan Teys on Wildcats development player Lochlan Cummings, when he made his first NBL basket with less than a second left on the clock, was not well received.
When the smoke cleared, Cats Lucas Walker and Dexter Kernich-Drew, plus Teys and his teammate Shannon Shorter, were ejected from the game.
After trailing by one point in a high-scoring opening half, the Cats dominated the second to run away with an incredible 21-point win.
They kept Adelaide to just nine points in the third term to go into the last with a 17-point lead.
Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson said he knew his side was in with a chance when they were so close at half-time.
“To come in one points down at the half was pretty darn good considering how many points we gave them,” he said.
“We knew if we stayed together we’d be in with a good show.
“That third quarter was some of the best defence I think we’ve played. To hold a team like that nine points, it certainly changed the game, especially being down 12 points early.”
Concerns that the reigning champions had dropped away are now gone after consecutive victories over top four teams.They beat New Zealand last weekend.
A win in the return bout against the 36ers in Adelaide on Sunday would go a long way to them earning the home-court advantage in the first round of the finals.
After climbing to second on the ladder on the back of seven straight wins, the 36ers now drop to third after consecutive losses.
Despite leading 61-60 at half-time, 36ers coach Joey Wright said he knew they were in trouble giving up that many points to the home side.
“You can’t give up 60 points on the road and expect to win – that’s not going to happen,” he said.
“Perth is notorious for third term scores. It’s about 1130pm at home for us in the third quarter and we fell asleep.
“I have been coaching down here for 15 years. If you’re not ready for the third quarter, you’re in trouble.”
Despite a slow start Adelaide had gained full momentum by quarter-time and with Mitch Creek dropping nine points, led by eight.
If not for some sharp shooting by Perth’s Jesse Wagstaff in the second, Adelaide would have led by more than one point at the main break.
He dropped 11 points for the quarter and finished with a game-high 25, equalled by Bryce Cotton.
What worked for the 36ers in the opening half didn’t in the second. They had eight assists in the first quarter and finished the game with 10.
Nathan Sobey top-scored for Adelaide with 18 points. While Shorter, who has averaged 16.75 points over the past eight games, was kept to just nine, as was Daniel Johnson.
Perth also dominated the boards, 40-33, with Jean-Pierre Tokoto pulling in 10 rebounds in a double-double performance.