Key moment: Perth’s 11-0 run in the fourth quarter, triggered by a Jesse Wagstaff triple, took the game right out of the Tigers’ hands.
Key player: Damian Martin had 14 points in the first half and finished with 20, shooting 3-of-4 from the three-point arc. His highest-ever return is 21 points in October 2010 against the Tigers.
Key stat: It was the first time this season the home side has prevailed in the Perth-Melbourne rivalry.
By Tracey Lewis, Pagemasters
A sparkling offensive performance from Damian Martin and some big three-pointers at big moments delivered the Perth Wildcats an 87-75 victory over the Melbourne Tigers at Perth Arena on Friday.
Wildcats Jesse Wagstaff (12 points, 3 rebounds) and Greg Hire (9 points) nailed long-range bombs midway through the final term to give their team the accelerant it needed to take the game away from the visitors.
Two tide-turning triples in the second quarter by Chris Goulding (10 points) and Mustapha Farrakhan (16 points) gave the Tigers momentum at either end of the term, but when the game was there to be taken the Wildcats made it count from range.
Jermaine Beal (17 points) had the hot hand early for the Cats who started small again and brought the returning Matt Knight off the bench.
Scott Morrison (14 points, 9 rebounds) made the most of Knight's late start, scoring seven points in the first quarter on an array of moves around the basket.
Perth took a 25-17 lead into the first break, but Tigers coach Chris Anstey called a quick time-out in the second and got an immediate response, Goulding nailing a three to put them back within three points.
Greg Hire, playing his 100th game, helped keep the Tigers at bay with a nice long-range bomb, while Martin (20 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists) sparked his team with nine points in the quarter to have 14 by the half.
Melbourne held firm, however, crushing the Wildcats 18-9 on the boards before Mustapha Farrakhan's buzzer-beating three-pointer gave his team a 47-46 edge at the main break.
Martin, more well-known for his blanketing defence than his scoring prowess, opened the attack with another three to start the third as the teams traded the lead.
“He was really aggressive which was good,” Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson said.
“He has so much influence on the defensive end and he gets us going. He is our engine room and a lot of teams leave him free because they want to cover Jermaine, James and Shawn and Matty and Jesse.
"He’s getting some wide open looks and the guys are trusting him to shoot the ball and he is doing his job and knocking it down."
The Tigers were finding success through Lucas Walker, who skied for a pair of alley-oop dunks, but it was the Wildcats who held strong with a 64-61 advantage at the final change.
Twice in the fourth period the margin was just one in favour of Perth, but they broke it open with an 11-0 run to put the game out of reach.
“Perth thrive on stops and getting running and they were able to do that in the second half," Tigers coach Chris Anstey said.
“We didn’t shoot the ball well. Our effort was better than it’s been in the past few weeks, but credit to them they executed better than us down the stretch and we didn’t get the looks we needed, and we couldn’t get Chris (Goulding) going."
Gleeson said holding a team like Melbourne to 14 points in the both the final two quarters was an outstanding effort.
“We are pretty good when we play defence and we are pretty ordinary when we take shortcuts and think someone else is going to do the work,” he said.
Perth Wildcats 87 (Martin 20, Beal 17, Wagstaff 12)
Melbourne Tigers 75 (Farrakhan 16, Walker 15, Morrison 14)
Crowd: 11,696 at Perth Arena