From nbl.com.au :
The home team dominance of this series especially after half-time continued on Friday night and it was quite the remarkably emphatic second half showing by the Wildcats in front of their rowdiest home crowd of 13,412 of the season.
With both Perth and Melbourne winning their opening home games of the best-of-five series on the back of coming out and dominating the start of the second half, it was a similar story on Friday night.
But this time the Wildcats really rammed home their advantage on the back of 25 second half points from White as they cruised to the 29-point win to take a 2-1 lead in the series.
Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson loved what he saw from White but also with the help of Bryce Cotton finding him and the bigs helping get him open.
“When he gets his eye in, the ball doesn’t even look like missing as soon as it’s out of his hand,” Gleeson said.
“That’s the good thing about Bryce is that he’s so unselfish that he finished with nine assists and we’ve got some big guys setting some good screens and Terrico is coming off and looking for it, and taking some good shots out of our offence.”
It’s going to take something special in little more than 36 hours now for Melbourne to respond on Sunday at Melbourne Arena in Game 4 to send the series to a decider back in Perth the following Sunday.
Perth only led 42-36 at half-time before starting the second half with a 12-4 run. Melbourne never recovered and when White caught fire with three triples to close the third quarter, including an and-one, blew it out.
White kept going with three bombs in the fourth term to give him a season-high 31 points on the back of shooting 10/16 from the field and 7/10 from downtown.
Perth went 14/29 from beyond the arc on the back of that while Melbourne couldn’t buy a three, shooting 4/27 from long-range with Casper Ware going 1/9, Chris Goulding 1/6 and Dave Barlow 0/5.
The Wildcats’ defence was outstanding stifling Melbourne, but they were in a flow offensive with 25 assists on 32 field goals. Cotton had another nine assists along with 16 points.
Angus Brandt added nine points and five rebounds, and Nick Kay eight points and seven boards to solid contributors too along with captain Damian Martin with eight points and four assists.
Gleeson wanted to make the point that it all started from Martin’s defence.
“We played just outstanding defence. That was vintage Damo and why he’s six-time Defensive Player of the Year,” Gleeson said.
“He was fantastic out there leading the way defensively and all the guys were buying in on the same wavelength. We got our energy from our defence and we rebounded a lot better, and it all started from the defensive end.”
DJ Kennedy fought hard for 13 points, nine rebounds and six assists for Melbourne with Barlow adding 13 points and five boards.
United coach Dean Vickerman gave credit to Perth’s defence led by Martin on Ware for being the difference in the game.
“I think we knew what was coming for us. They’ve talked about being more physical and making it tough for Casper and they did a great job of it, credit to them,” Vickerman said.
“Damo’s defence tonight stopping Casper from catching the basketball and up the floor was outstanding.
“Their on-ball defence was the most aggressive we’ve seen all series and at times we moved the ball well out of it, and at times we struggled to get into our offence because of the job they did on Casper up the floor.
“Then the momentum that they got from the defence and the crowd got into it, and they made threes. Hitting 14 threes to four is the difference in the game right there.”
Melbourne did start well with a big block from Josh Boone on Brandt and then he scored the game’s first points. United kept going to lead 12-8 with Mitch McCarron doing well on the o-boards, but the Wildcats soon got on a roll.
Perth finished the first quarter with a 13-4 run to lead 21-16 but they couldn’t quite breakaway in the second term despite a run of 6-0 thanks to White and Cotton. Melbourne answered with their own 6-0 before Goulding hit his lone three of the night to keep the margin to six at the half.
It wouldn’t stay close for long. Brandt came out strong with a dunk to start the third and the signs were ominous when Kay scored inside too. White then made a bucket and Cotton hit consecutive threes and Perth’s lead grew to 14 in four minutes.
White was then an unstoppable force. After a pair of threes, he hit another with 30 seconds left in the quarter and was fouled, converted the four-point play and Perth led 70-51.
White added three more triples in six minutes of the last quarter as both teams emptied their bench as the Red Army celebrated their Wildcats being one win away from a ninth championship.
NBL GRAND FINAL SERIES GAME 3
PERTH WILDCATS 96 (White 31, Cotton 16, Brandt 9)
MELBOURNE UNITED 67 (Kennedy 13, Barlow 13, Ware 10)
Perth leads series 2-1