The Perth Wildcats slumped to a second loss in as many weeks when beaten 77-65 by traditional rivals Adelaide at Adelaide Arena today.
A week after being handed the heaviest defeat of Rob Beveridge’s tenure by Wollongong, the Wildcats produced a tougher defensive performance and held a four-point advantage over the 36ers at three-quarter time.
But they couldn’t get the job done in the final quarter against an Adelaide side that could have been forgiven for tiring after playing the first of two games for the week in Melbourne on Friday.
The loss left the Wildcats in third place, but they will be relatively happy with a 3-2 record after being forced to start the season with five consecutive road games.
CJ Massingale came off the bench to score 18 points for Adelaide, while big men Daniel Johnson (17) and Anthony Petrie (11) also caused the Wildcats problems.
Matt Knight was the standout player for the visitors with 21 points and eight rebounds.
But the Wildcats shot the ball at just 36 per cent from the field and were woeful from long range, nailing just four of 23 three-point attempts.
The Wildcats had a plan to get the ball to reigning league MVP Kevin Lisch more than they did last week, but he could only manage 12 points at 33 per cent.
Adelaide’s win saw them move back into the top four with a 4-3 record ahead of this week’s return game against the Wildcats at Perth Arena.
New Zealand (6-1) are on top of the ladder after registering a pair of tough road wins over Townsville and Cairns over the weekend.
ADELAIDE 36ERS 77 (Massingale 18, Johnson 17, Petrie 11)
PERTH WILDCATS 65 (Knight 21, Lisch 12, Redhage 7)
Matt Knight produced the most dominant individual performance of the game but couldn’t inspire his teammates. Knight made 10 of 17 field goal attempts to register a game-high 21 points and had a team-high eight rebounds.
BEFORE THE TIP
Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge made a rare change to his starting line-up, promoting last season’s league-wide best sixth man Jesse Wagstaff in place of Shawn Redhage. It created the unusual situation of the Wildcats having both co-captains starting the game on the bench. Adelaide went big in a bid to stretch the undersized Wildcats with twin towers Luke Schenscher and Daniel Johnson.
Stephen Weigh nailed a huge turnaround fadeaway jumper in the corner to complete 7-0 run and give Adelaide a 68-63 advantage that they refused to relinquish over the final two minutes.
The two teams meet again in just five days in the first ever game at the brand new $550 million Perth Arena. The atmosphere is cure to be electric with just a few hundred tickets left on sale.