Cairns add to Wildcats NBL woes in Perth

Brad Elborough
Taipans' Melo Trimble (right) finished with 32 points in the win over Perth Wildcats

Perth Wildcats' NBL season is hanging together by a thread.

On Friday night their terrible run of form hit a new low when they lost 81-79 to bottom side Cairns Taipans at RAC Arena.

Perth remain in the top three, but are surviving on the spoils of their strong start to the season.

Since entering December with a 11-1 record, the Cats have gone 2-7.

Melo Trimble tore apart Perth's once miserly defence, finishing with 32 points, including six from three-point range.

With help from Nate Jawai (eight rebounds) and Lucas Walker (eight) Cairns also dominated the boards, especially early on.

Coach Mike Kelly said he was proud that his side managed to grind out a win.

"The good thing was it wasn't pretty," he said. "I don't think either team will away from that saying 'what a pretty game of basketball'.

"But we had to grind out a win, which was great.

"We had leads, they took 'em back and then these guys showed some grit and grind and that's what you have to do to get some wins here against a really tough team."

Perth coach Trevor Gleeson was clearly frustrated and attracted a technical foul late in the third term.

The resultant bonus point hurt the Cats in the dying seconds as they tried to steal a win.

Cairns gave them every chance in the last 60 seconds too, but they fumbled every attempt, where earlier in the season, they found ways of winning.

The Cats trailed by 14 points during the first half and by 12 points at the main break.

Their score of 32 points was their worst opening half this season, shooting at a low 21.4 per cent.

Terrico White, with 11 points, was the only one who looked like scoring and nine of his points came from long range.

Gleeson was disappointed that his side took so long to lay down their challenge.

"I was really disappointed that we didn't take the game on until we were 12 down or 14 down," he said.

"In the last quarter, it was great, high intensity, getting after it, desperation stuff, but we allowed them to get their tails up early in the game and it was hard to wind them back."

Cairns' newly-found form will be tested on Sunday when they host Melbourne United.

Perth will kick off Round 14 with an away game against the 36ers in Adelaide next Thursday night.