Wildcats power away from Breakers
An undermanned New Zealand Breakers side has proven no match for the Perth Wildcats, Bryce Cotton back to his best in the home side's 98-84 win at RAC Arena on Sunday.
The league's leading scorer tallied 16 of his game-high 32 points in a red-hot first quarter as the two-time defending champions found their groove in a dominant second-half to end round 17 action.
Cotton added 10 assists, while John Mooney (27 points and 9 rebounds) and Todd Blanchfield (18 points) also ensured the Wildcats gained revenge after two recent defeats to the Breakers, who could not overcome the absences of Corey Webster and Levi Randolph.
Finn Delany (21 points) and Tai Webster (20 points) tried hard before both fouled out late as the Breakers (9-18) remained anchored near the bottom of the ladder.
Captain Tom Abercrombie added to their woes after suffering a hamstring injury in the final stanza.
After ending Melbourne United's 11-game winning streak last start, the Wildcats (20-7) inched closer to the league leaders ahead of another blockbuster clash between the teams on Thursday in Perth.
Boom recruit Will Magnay did not make his highly anticipated Wildcats debut with the 22-year-old, who had become available after a stint with the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA, held out after the Boomers centre spent 14 days in mandatory hotel quarantine.
"We decided not to play him because his body wasn't up to it yet," Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson said post match.
"We anticipate him playing on Thursday."
Cotton, the favourite for a second straight MVP despite a recent cold streak, started with a sizzling step back three-pointer en route to the highest first quarter output by a player this season.
But the Breakers stayed afloat with consecutive three-pointers reducing the deficit to four points at the first break.
The visitors continued to rely on their long-range mastery marked by young sharpshooter Isaac Davidson nailing a spectacular banked three-pointer.
The Breakers, who hit eight of their first 14 attempts from deep, struggled on defence and Cotton made them pay with aggressive drives to the basket as the Wildcats held a slim 51-49 half-time lead.
With Webster and Delany mired in foul trouble, the Breakers lacked scoring punch in the third stanza and the Wildcats capitalised to jump out to a 71-62 lead at the final change.
Their momentum continued with Cotton capping off his irresistible performance with a late dagger from deep.
Perth will remain home to prepare for their Thursday night clash at RAC Arena with ladder leaders Melbourne, while the Breakers are in action against the South East Melbourne Phoenix at John Cain Arena on Wednesday.
IMAGE: The West Australian.