Kings can’t stop Cotton, Wildcats win sixth-straight

Murray Wenzel |

Bryce Cotton was one of the prime movers in the Perth Wildcats’ NBL win over the Sydney Kings.
Bryce Cotton was one of the prime movers in the Perth Wildcats’ NBL win over the Sydney Kings.

Jaylen Adams and Bryce Cotton have delivered in an MVP shoot-out but it was Perth who had the answers to defy Sydney for a sixth-straight NBL victory.

Cotton (29 points, four steals) continued his fine season in Sunday’s 104-98 victory in Sydney, with the Wildcats’ 13th win in 15 games  improving them to 15-7 and putting them three wins clear in second spot.

Fresh off a 39-point haul last weekend, Adams matched Cotton with 29 of his own and did his best to drag the Kings home in the final quarter.

He found his mid-range jump shot to level the scores at 92-92 with little more than two minutes to play, before he and Cotton traded tough three-pointers.

It was a Hyrum Harris triple, banked off the backboard, that tipped the scales Perth’s way, before the visitors managed the clock in the final minute to continue their remarkable run.

Cotton scored his 5,000th point in his 222nd NBL appearance, becoming just the third man to do it in the 40-minute era.

“Where he fits in the upper echelon of talent that’s played in this league, that’s for people to figure out once he’s done playing,” Perth coach John Rillie said of Cotton.

“But while he is playing he’s going to give his best effort to make that question an easy answer.

“You’ve got to let superstars be superstars and when someone’s rolling like that, the best thing you can do is stay out of the way.”

The two-time defending champion Kings (11-12), who snapped back to form with an emphatic win over New Zealand last weekend, will slip to behind the winner of Brisbane and Cairns later on Sunday into fifth.

Sydney coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah was not upset with his side’s effort, as 24 offensive rebounds offset 10-of-40 three-point shooting.

“It is what it is, the guys battled,” he said.

“A couple of shots fell their way, that made the difference. Both teams played hard, it was a play-off game.”

Perth, who beat the visiting Bullets last Sunday, defied the quick turnaround to start smartly and lead 26-13 after seven minutes.

The Kings missed their first nine three-point attempts but, trailing by as many as 14, surged back into the contest with a 37-point second quarter. 

They were down by just one at halftime, and by three at the final break.

But Cotton had plenty of help as the Wildcats continued their winning ways, with Jordan Usher (24 points, five assists) and Tai Webster (16 points, five assists, three steals) chiming in with momentum-turning plays.

Kings bench forward Makuach Maluach had 18 points on five-of-six shooting while Jordan Hunter had 15 points and 12 rebounds.