The Perth Wildcats have found some late NBL form to beat the Cairns Taipans by 28 points.The Perth Wildcats have rediscovered some much-needed form in the final home-and-away fixture of the NBL season, beating the Cairns Taipans 89-61 at Perth Arena.
The Wildcats had lost three consecutive games going into the clash and won only five of their previous 14 games.
But something clicked early in the second quarter on Sunday.
After trailing 21-20 at the start of the second term they outscored the Taipans 68-41 for the remainder of the game.
Cairns coach Aaron Fearne said he thought Perth were much sharper than a week earlier when the Taipans had beaten them by two points.
“They were sharp but you should be at this time of the year,” he said.
“I thought they played some better basketball on Friday against Melbourne.
“We lost our way too many times.”
Two things would have concerned Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson in the opening quarter, though – the inability of his bench to defend Cairns late in the term and the eight offensive rebounds the Taipans managed in the first 10 minutes of the game.
Ominously, though, it was Bryce Cotton who got the Wildcats going after a Dayshon Smith jump shot gave the visitors a one-point lead early in the second quarter.
Cotton dropped six off 11 three-point attempts and bought his teammates into the game with six assists. The result was Perth leading by 17 points at halftime.
Cotton top-scored with 24 points from just 23 minutes on court.
Even with some concerns early in the game, Gleeson was satisfied with the overall performance.
“We haven’t played four consistent quarters for a little bit so to get that under our belt is just perfect going in to the play-offs,” he said.
“We really pushed them out of their stuff. I think there were three 24-second violations on the defensive end.
“We were able to maintain that pressure for the game.”
Derek Cooke Jr also played his part in getting the Cats going on the boards.
After Cairns pulled in 15 rebounds in the opening term they managed only one defensive board in the second quarter.
Perth took control in the air, winning that statistic 45-31.
It was tough way end to the career of Cairns Stephen Weigh, who managed only two points from eight minutes due to his foot injury.
Cam Gliddon and Jerry Evans Jr top scored for the Taipans with 12 points apiece.