NBL 2014/15 Round 10: Perth regain top two placing against Sixers

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For the first time since Game 3 of the 2014 Grand Final series, the Adelaide 36ers returned to the Perth Arena to face the Wildcats but the result was the same as the visitors came up empty, 76-97.

The front court match-up was always going to be where Perth could take advantage and Matt Knight (16 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks) earned MVP honours, trouncing Brock Motum (9 points, 4 rebounds) and Luke Schenscher (8 and 6). The home side won the rebound count 55-33, recording 9 more offensive rebounds while scoring 44-16 in the paint.

Trailing by 14 points at half-time, Adelaide made their run in the third term, trimming the margin to 7 by the final change. Jamar Wilson was the catalyst, scoring 10 of his 26 in the third with a mindset of getting to the free throw line. Alongside the play of BJ Anthony, Wilson’s drives allowed the 36ers ten more free throw attempts for the quarter.

Despite carrying the momentum, the visitors were stopped in their tracks by an 11-2 run from the home side to start the final period. With the shot clock running down, Knight proved it was his day by nailing a three, his first of the season, before DeAndre Daniels got the crowd on their feet with a thunderous dunk.

Drake U’u then capped off his spectacular game with two three’s that sent the Sixers packing. He shot 7-7 from the field, including 5-5 from beyond the arc for a season high 20 points, improving on his season average of 2.7.

Utilising their front court advantage, the Wildcats started the game by running their offence through Knight and the centre drew two fouls on Motum in the first 1:30. In response, Adelaide pressed defensively, disrupting Perth before they could assert their dominance in the post. Alongside Adam Gibson’s offensive aggression, the plan worked well and the visitors pulled to within a point at quarter-time.

An 11-2 run mid-way through the second term blew the match open though, as the Wildcats showed off their superior passing. With the defence scrambled, Daniels cut baseline for a dunk before finding himself wide open for a three.

Despite becoming less of a focus of Adelaide’s offence, Wilson brought himself into the game with a couple of handy jumper’s but the rebound differential kept the Sixers from truly getting into the contest.

It was from there that the visitors were able to make their run but three-quarter time came at an inopportune moment while a late three pointer from U’u helped wrestle back momentum for the home side.

The 36ers were held to 35% field goal shooting with Wilson the only player able to get off the leash. Anthony Petrie (14 points, 7 boards) was solid and Gibson finished with 10 points, 5 assists and 3 steals although Damian Martin was able to keep him quiet in the second half.

They will return home next Friday night to play Cairns, a side they have already lost to twice this season.

Five Perth players reached double figures with Jermaine Beal (10 points), Jesse Wagstaff (14) and Daniels (17 and 8 rebounds) joining Knight and U’u. Martin did not score but added 6 boards and 5 assists while Tom Jervis collected 7 points and 7 rebounds off the bench.

The victory sees the Wildcats move back into the top two on the ladder while their home record is now a league best 7-1. They have a quick turnaround, facing Sydney this Thursday night on the road.

Perth Wildcats 94 (U’u 20, Daniels 17, Knight 16)

Adelaide 36ers 91 (Wilson 26, Petrie 14, Gibson 10)

@ Perth Arena