The old warhorse Damian Martin turned on a clinic as the Perth Wildcats shook off a blistering Adelaide 36ers start to continue their resurgence with a statement-making 100-81 win on Friday night at RAC Arena.
The Sixers shot out of the blocks with 18 points in the game’s first four minutes with Jacob Wiley hitting 12 of them as they looked set to fire themselves back into the NBL’s top four.
It wasn’t to be with the 36ers ending up scoring just 13 points in the second quarter and 11 in the second. The Wildcats hit 52 points in that time and from the moment the Sixers led 18-9, the ‘Cats outscored them 91 to 63 in a showing that puts them right back in the title hunt.
Just days after wife Brittany gave birth to their second daughter, ‘Cats captain Martin delivered his best showing of the season with 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals.
He knocked down 3/5 from three-point range but more than that, his defence, hustle and tips were as good as at any point in his 304-game career.
There were plenty of shining lights for Perth with Bryce Cotton finishing with 19 points (five assists), Nick Kay 16 (eight rebounds, eight assists), Clint Steindl 19 and Angus Brandt 10 (four rebounds, four assists, three steals).
Majok Deng top-scored for Adelaide with 19 points with Wiley adding 18 but 12 of those came in the first four minutes. Jack McVeigh scored 12 points and Harry Froling 10.
It was a scintillating opening from the 36ers with Jacob Wiley catching fire with 12 points in the opening three and-a-half minutes. The Sixers were up 18-9 four minutes in after a Demitrius Conger three but Perth steadied well with astute substitutions from Trevor Gleeson.
Clint Steindl came in to hit two threes and Jesse Wagstaff provided a cool head too as they went on a 10-0 run to reclaim the lead.
It was a good response after Adelaide’s start, but the 36ers caught fire again with five quick Jack McVeigh points and a three to Adam Doyle to be up 32-25 at quarter-time.
Wiley went to 14 points to start the second quarter but two of Perth’s ex-Townsville guns Mitch Norton and Steindl combined for the next seven points to keep the home team close.
Norton went down soon after with a calf injury and a Daniel Johnson three put the Sixers up six, but Joey Wright was growing furious with his team’s execution offensively and what they were allowing defensively.
The Wildcats took advantage and with consecutive threes to Terrico White they went into half-time up 48-45 and deservedly feeling good about it given the runs Adelaide made.
Having scored 18 points in the game’s first four minutes, Adelaide had just four in the first seven minutes of the second half with the Wildcats on fire at both ends of the floor.
Martin and Cotton capped a 9-0 with three-pointers as the home team’s lead grew to 14. Cotton’s trademark four-point play saw it out to 19 soon after before an offensive board and putback from Kay made it 21.
Harry Froling and Steindl traded threes before three quarter-time with Perth still up 21.
The game was over as a contest once Steindl drained another trey to open the fourth quarter. Adelaide at least avoided it blowing it out further with Majok Deng hitting 11 points, but the ‘Cats cruised to the 19-point win.
Both teams back up again in Round 15 with the Wildcats travelling to Sydney on Sunday while the Adelaide hosts Melbourne United on Monday night.
NBL ROUND 15
PERTH WILDCATS 100 (Cotton 19, Steindl 19, Kay 16)
ADELAIDE 36ERS 81 (Deng 19, Wiley 18, McVeigh 12)