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Fit Knight crucial to Wildcats
Matt Knight. Picture: Getty Images

Perth Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge highlighted the importance of a fit Matt Knight to his team's title chances after their stunning demolition of New Zealand in Auckland on Friday.

Knight has been hampered by a string of injuries since joining the Wildcats two years ago and had surgery to repair his left shoulder over the off-season.

But his performance against the Breakers, when he scored 20 points and had nine rebounds in a 93-72 win, will warm the hearts of Wildcats fans.

"He was feared," Beveridge said.

"He's had injuries for the last three years but when he's not injured he's the best power forward in the league and tonight he just put a show on - a power game.

"He was ruthless on the boards, I think he had 20 (points) and nine (rebounds). He just completely dominated (Alex) Pledger and (Will) Hudson."

The Wildcats lost centre Luke Nevill from last season's roster and there have been question marks over their perceived lack of size, with Knight and Jeremiah Trueman set to do battle with the league's giants.

But at the North Shore Events Centre on Friday, Pledger did not collect a single rebound, while Hudson was held to just three offensive rebounds.

Tough forwards Mika Vukona and Dillon Boucher were also kept relatively quiet by the Wildcats' front-court.

"It was really pleasing from that perspective because there are a lot of questions about 'are we too small?'" Beveridge said.

"We lost Nevill but I would think that we are now a better balanced team.

"We're just more relentless and the commitment that the guys are showing… you can just see it in their eyes."

US import Kevin Lisch matched Knight's efforts with 20 points of his own against the Breakers despite being double-teamed for much of the game.

The reigning league MVP said the Wildcats had taken a team-orientated approach to rebound, which reaped clear benefits with a 36-24 count.

Only two players on limited minutes - back-up guard Everard Bartlett and rookie Ben Purser - had less than three rebounds for the Wildcats.

Conversely, only two players had more than three rebounds for the Breakers.

"We have everybody rebounding and a gang rebounding mentality," Lisch said.

"We've got Damo (guard Damian Martin) flying in there and Matty had nine rebounds. A bunch of guys had three or four.

"If everyone just contributes it really makes up for that height difference."