MVP Cotton supreme as Wildcats claw Kings

·2-min read

Bryce Cotton produced another stellar clutch performance to continue Perth Wildcats' stranglehold over arch-nemesis Sydney Kings with a tough 95-89 victory at RAC Arena.

The two-time defending champions trailed by two points at the last break on Thursday before the NBL's leading scorer and MVP Cotton scored 12 of his 22 points in a scintillating fourth quarter.

John Mooney continued his strong form with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Todd Blanchfield poured in 18 points.

Kings talisman Casper Ware scored 27 points and played tenacious defence to stymie Cotton for much of the physical contest until fouls limited his impact late, while Jarell Martin (25 points and 11 rebounds) battled hard.

The red-hot Wildcats (14-4) have won 12 of their past 13 games, while Sydney (9-10) are in a congested mid-table fight.

In a scramble for the NBL, the Wildcats faced the Kings instead of New Zealand after the Breakers were unable to enter WA due to playing in COVID-19 impacted Brisbane last week.

The Wildcats continued to torment their bitter rivals, having now beaten the Kings three times this season, including a 24-point thrashing in Sydney last Sunday.

Tensions have simmered between the teams since the Wildcats' controversial 2-1 victory in last year's grand final, a series called off with two games remaining due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We knew they would bounce back and it was a tough physical contest, but it was a good learning experience for the team," Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson said.

"We controlled the tempo but there were some questionable calls at the end," said Kings coach Adam Forde.

The Kings stifled the cold-shooting Wildcats in an energetic first quarter highlighted by a dominant Martin's two powerful dunks.

But the Kings were unable to capitalise and Cotton took advantage with a pair of three-pointers as the Wildcats led 44-43 at halftime.

Similar to previous contests, the Wildcats dominated on the offensive glass before Ware heated up with nine points in the third period to ensure the Kings held sway at the last change.

Cotton, however, finally broke the shackles and a late unsportsmanlike foul from Craig Moller fuelled a 7-0 run to help clinch the Wildcats' longest winning streak in a season since late 2013.

The teams will renew their rivalry in Sydney next Thursday but before then the Kings host Brisbane Bullets on Saturday.