Gutsy Brisbane Bullets have overcome their former star Vic Law to record a pulsating 97-94 double overtime victory against Perth Wildcats to celebrate new coach James Duncan’s first NBL win in style.
The visitors broke a four-year curse at RAC Arena despite Law, who crossed over from Brisbane in the off-season, dominating the second overtime en route to a game-high 29 points.
The Bullets were led by Lamar Patterson (27 points), recent NBA player Robert Franks (21 points and 12 rebounds) and Nathan Sobey (19 points and 12 rebounds).
Law appeared to win the bragging rights when he hit a three-pointer with 40 seconds left in the second overtime only to be cancelled out by Franks’ long range shot moments later.
Three-time MVP Bryce Cotton missed a three-pointer for the lead with 11 seconds left as the Bullets (1-1) capped round two in memorable fashion.
Cotton (19 points) missed his first 11 field goals but scored 11 points in the fourth quarter to give the Wildcats the edge before the Bullets dug deep and eventually inflicted the Wildcats’ (2-1) first loss of the season.
“I’m very proud of the guys who fought through a lot of adversity. It’s tough to win in Perth. This is huge for our confidence,” Duncan said.
Wildcats coach Scott Morrison rued his team’s preparation and pointed the finger at himself.
“I did a poor job with our match-ups and didn’t emphasise rebounding and defence enough, which was a major factor in the loss,” he said.
The Bullets needed a strong start to break their six-match losing streak in Perth but the Wildcats went on an early 20-4 run marked by a three-pointer from sharpshooter Todd Blanchfield in his season debut.
With Law and Cotton subdued, the Bullets sensed an opening and went inside to Franks who dominated in the post to fuel their 43-39 lead at half-time.
The Bullets suffered a blow after the long break when Anthony Drmic hobbled off with an ankle injury, but Patterson’s consecutive three-pointers gave them a 58-57 lead at the last break.
Cotton finally hit his first bucket with a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter to regain the lead for the Wildcats.
The reigning MVP made a four-point play with one minute left in regulation to give the Wildcats a handy six-point buffer but the gallant Bullets would not be denied in an early season statement.
The Wildcats will be out for revenge when the teams meet again in Perth on Friday night.