Wildcats bounce back against Bullets
The Perth Wildcats have responded emphatically to their loss to the New Zealand Breakers, comfortably accounting for the Brisbane Bullets at RAC Arena on Friday night.
Fans were allowed in to the venue despite Perth moving in to a lockdown from midnight Friday, watching on with masks as John Mooney led his side to a 92-74 win in front of just 4,737 spectators.
Friday's round 15 contest lacked intensity at times with the usually teeming RAC Arena jarringly sparse but the Wildcats prevailed with MVP favourite Bryce Cotton scoring 12 of his 21 points in a typically dominant fourth quarter.
Harry Froling (20 points) and Lamar Patterson (19 points and 10 rebounds) tried hard for Brisbane (10-13), who have lost three straight games, while second-placed Wildcats (18-6) remain on the heels of league leaders Melbourne United.
Due to the lockdown, the Bullets' home clash with South East Melbourne Phoenix on Sunday has been postponed, while Cairns Taipans will now host the Phoenix instead of the Wildcats that day.
"We have to roll with these punches, it is what it is," Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson said of the forced disruptions.
"We will have to make the game up and it will be a tough schedule later on but it will be good to have the weekend off."
The Wildcats made amends after a shock loss to New Zealand Breakers last Sunday which capped a torrid schedule, where they played five games in 11 days.
The weary two-time defending champions had a lighter training load this week and it seemed to pay dividends against the Bullets as they raced into an early 14-point lead.
They were helped by the cold-shooting visitors who hit just three of 20 field goal attempts to trail 20-9 at the first break.
The Bullets turned things around in the second stanza but were caught napping before halftime and Wani Swaka Lo Buluk made them pay with a three-pointer at the buzzer to give the Wildcats a 45-36 lead.
The Wildcats' momentum spilled into the third period, where an 8-0 run powered them to a commanding 56-39 advantage.
But the home side then went through a scoring drought and the Bullets capitalised with a 16-0 run to get within two points early in the fourth quarter.
Cotton finally got going with a spectacular four-point play to ignite the Wildcats, who gained revenge after losing to the Bullets 95-92 in round 8, their only defeat as part of the NBL Cup leg of the season.
IMAGE: The West Australian.