Kings and Wildcats pull away in NBL

Adrian Warren
Bryce Cotton (R) with 23 points helped the Perth to cement their place in the NBL top two

NBL pacesetters Sydney and Perth have opened up more space on fellow finals aspirants, during a round in which the Wildcats have successfully introduced the competition's newest former NBA player.

Leaders Sydney (15-6) avenged a previous home-court loss to third-placed Cairns (12-10) with a comfortable 92-83 win over a Taipans side who had won their past five.

Daniel Kickert and Casper Ware each scored 18 for Sydney, who led for virtually the entire game.

Second-placed Perth (14-8) nailed 17 three-pointers as they belted last-placed Illawarra 99-77 in Wollongong.

Bryce Cotton scored 23, bagging seven three-pointers for the Wildcats, who had lost three of their past four.

Perth coach Trevor Gleeson hopes to build momentum, with five of their remaining six games at home after a gruelling couple of months during which they have played 12 of 17 on the road.

"Through November until now, we've played the majority of our games on the road. There's a little bit of fatigue there from the guys from so much travelling," Gleeson said.

Former NBA big man Miles Plumlee had six points, three rebounds and two blocks in just over 16 minutes on his Perth debut after being brought in to replace Dario Hunt.

"What he does is he gives us a great target inside - defensively a couple of blocks; he made some really good plays," Gleeson said.

"Now he's just got to get some rhythm and understand how Australian basketball is played. He's really going to help us."

Cairns' defeat didn't prove costly as fourth-placed Melbourne United (11-10) lost 100-86 away to Adelaide (11-11), sitting just behind them on the ladder.

Jerome Randle tallied 23 and Eric Griffin 21 and 11 rebounds for Adelaide in front of 9034 fans, the largest attendance for a NBL game in South Australia.

United had few good contributors apart from Chris Goulding, whose match-high 26 included six three-pointers and Shawn Long, who supplied 16 points and 14 boards.

"This quarter of the season, we won three games on the road and we lost one, and lost three at home - so it's a sub-standard quarter for us," United coach Dean Vickerman said.

"We've got a quarter of the season to go and we need a positive score out of that, whether that be 5-2, 4-3."

The New Zealand Breakers (9-12) lost ground in the battle for a playoff spot, losing 85-79 at Cairns and 95-85 at home to Brisbane (10-11).

South East Melbourne moved above the Breakers with Dane Pineau accumulating 14 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks in Sunday's 90-82 win at Illawarra (5-17).

The Red Cross bushfire disaster relief and recovery effort across the round raised $63,900.