The Perth Wildcats have pressed their claims for a top-two NBL berth and cast aside a significant hoodoo after defeating ladder-leading Melbourne United 97-87 at John Cain Arena.
The Wildcats started swiftly and finished strongly on Thursday night to end a run of six straight defeats against United, while also ending Melbourne's five-game winning streak.
Unheralded Mitch Norton (career-high 26 points) got under United's guard, Vic Law (20 points, 18 boards) was a beast, particularly after half-time, and Bryce Cotton (19 points) showcased pockets of his trademark brilliance.
"I was most happy with our persistence of our game plan and trying to stay solid - do the little things and not take big swings," Wildcats coach Scott Morrison said.
"Over the course of 40 minutes, that was one of our better efforts against a really tough team.
"You've got to be almost perfect to beat them and hope for a few breaks along the way."
Jo Lual-Acuil (16 points, five boards) and Matthew Dellavedova (15) had their moments for United, while jumping Jack White had the crowd on their feet when he launched for an explosive third-quarter tip-jam and twice rejected Majok Majok's dunk attempts.
Captain Chris Goulding (eight points at 21 percent) was well down and found early foul trouble as Melbourne fell in a 10-point hole.
The insertion of young German giant Ariel Hukporti gave Lual-Acuil some front-court aid and sparked the hosts, who closed to within one point at quarter-time.
Dellavedova's 13-point second stanza onslaught, which included three treys, gave United the upper hand, 48-46 at half-time.
After the break, though, Law and Majok got on top in the paint, Melbourne lost their way with a slew of sloppy turnovers and Perth assumed total control.
United chipped away in the fourth and trailed by only two points inside the final three minutes before Law hit a couple of tough buckets and Norton snared a massive offensive board which ended in Cotton's three-point dagger.
That 72-second, 8-0 spurt, followed by a swag of free throws, sealed it for Perth.Melbourne's untidy performance surprised most, but not their furious coach Dean Vickerman, who saw it coming.
"We had a poor practice leading into this game," he said
"I thought some people floated around like we'd done something and didn't take care of their own business.
"We didn't have people do the job they needed to do defensively.
"Hopefully it's a good kick in the a****."
Australian Associated Press
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