Bryce Cotton has rediscovered his shooting touch as Perth Wildcats exacted revenge against Brisbane Bullets with an 83-70 victory at RAC Arena.
There was much anticipation over this NBL rematch after the Bullets broke a four-year curse in Perth with a nerve-jangling 97-94 double overtime victory last Sunday.
But league MVP Cotton bounced back from a cold shooting performance with 29 points as the Wildcats wore down the Bullets in a fiery contest on Friday.
Vic Law, the NBL’s leading scorer after crossing over from Brisbane in the off-season, was held to just nine points but captain Jesse Wagstaff (19 points) picked up the slack with a vintage performance.
Former NBA player Michael Frazier II (five points) made his NBL debut off the Wildcats’ bench but was limited by early foul trouble.
The Wildcats’ win was soured by sharpshooter Todd Blanchfield re-injuring his left knee after landing awkwardly in the third quarter.
He had missed the Wildcats’ opening two matches of the season following knee surgery in the off-season.
“He was on crutches as precaution. We will wait and see what the medical team say before we panic,” Wildcats coach Scott Morrison said.
Bullets star Robert Franks scored 20 of his 28 points in a dominant first-half before running out of steam.
The visitors were dealt a blow when Nathan Sobey suffered an apparent pectoral muscle injury in the second quarter and he had little impact in the second-half playing through discomfort.
Bullets coach James Duncan said Sobey had a “few niggles” but expected him to play in their home opener against Illawarra Hawks on Sunday.
After missing his first 11 field goals last match, Cotton hit his opening shot and then nailed a three-pointer late in the first quarter in a confident start. But Franks, who played in the NBA last season, was unstoppable and kept the Bullets level at half-time.
Law came out aggressively in the third stanza with a dunk and then hit a three-pointer shortly later. A pumped-up Law received a technical foul when he lightly knocked heads with Deng Deng, who also received a technical for flopping, and the stage was set for another pulsating finish.
But Cotton shut the door on the Bullets with trademark clutch shooting in the fourth quarter as the Wildcats gained sweet revenge.
The Wildcats end their five-match homestand to start the season against new franchise Tasmania JackJumpers on Sunday.