Perth Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge blasted his players for shutting up shop in the final quarter of their comfortable 73-58 win over Melbourne at Perth Arena today.
The Wildcats put Melbourne to the sword in front of 12,336 fans - their biggest ever home crowd - and have now won eight of their last nine games.
They will start hot favourites against struggling Cairns at Perth Arena next week.
But Beveridge will demand an improved performance after feeling his side relaxed down the stretch against the Tigers.
The Wildcats led by 29 points at three-quarter time before being outscored 21-7 in the final term.
“We completely shut up shop,” Beveridge said.
“Everybody just stopped playing and for that I'm extremely disappointed.
“The guys should be as well, particularly the senior players in the team, to let that slip away like that.
“It was disappointing that we didn't grind it out all the way through.
“Instead of winning by 15, we should've won by 30 or 40.”
Captain Shawn Redhage top-scored with 18 points for the Wildcats, while Matt Knight continued his solid return from injury.
Knight, who missed five games with a torn calf muscle, scored 14 points and had eight rebounds to have a major impact on the contest.
The Wildcats amassed 20 offensive rebounds and won the overall rebound count 51-36.
But it was their defensive effort in restricting Melbourne to just 37 points over the first three quarters that most impressed Beveridge.
“Defensively this is as good a team as I've ever coached in my 20 years of coaching,” Beveridge said.
“They're that good defensively.”
Melbourne started the better of the two sides and led by eight points early in the first quarter.
It took the Wildcats nearly five minutes to score their first basket in open play.
But the home side clicked into gear just before quarter-time and took control of the contest, restricting the Tigers to just six points in the second quarter.
The Wildcats led by 13 points at half-time and were never seriously threatened after the main break.
Beveridge took the opportunity to give development players Ben Purser and Gavin Field court time with the result beyond doubt in the final quarter.
Melbourne import Jonny Flynn scored a game-high 19 points and dished out five assists but lacked support from his teammates.
Athletic swingman Bennie Lewis came off the bench to score 11 points and put on a show for the crowd with a one-handed dunk on the end of a pass from Flynn.
In today's other game, Adelaide snapped an eight-game losing run with an 82-64 win over Sydney at Adelaide Arena.
Willetton product Daniel Johnson led the way with a game-high 24 points and seven rebounds for the 36ers after teammate and former Wildcats centre Luke Schenscher was taken to hospital following a heavy fall.
But it remains to be seen whether 36ers coach Marty Clarke’s troubles are behind him.
The Adelaide hierarchy met late on Friday to discuss a number of pressing topics including Clarke’s tenure, the sale of home court Adelaide Arena and inaugural championship-winning coach Ken Cole’s offer to buy the team.
Talks between club chairman Daryl Simmons, directors Paul Finlay and Dean Parker and CEO Leeanne Grantham were continuing over the weekend with the result expected to be known in the coming days.
Clarke has won just 23 of 73 games in two-and-a-half seasons at the helm, including 6-11 this season.
Wollongong's title hopes took a major hit when point guard Rhys Martin was yesterday ruled out for the remainder of the NBL season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
The Hawks are still waiting on the results of scans on Lance Hurdle's knee but expect the American import to miss games.
Two-time defending champions New Zealand Breakers are on a roll after their comeback 82-78 win over the Crocodiles in Townsville on Friday night - their fifth straight win.
The ladder-leading Breakers (13-3) overcame a 15-point halftime deficit to ensure they won all four games on their holiday season road trip since their December 28 visit to Adelaide - the first time they had achieved the feat.
Tom Abercrombie (19 points) helped the Kiwis snap Townsville’s five-game winning streak.
“This group has been together a while and has experienced success together - that builds a belief that you’re never out of it,” Breakers coach Andre Lemanis said.