The Perth Wildcats continued their unbeaten start to the season with a 74-65 road win over the Melbourne Tigers at Hisense Arena on Sunday.
The winless Tigers (0-3) were hoping to turn things around in their home opener, but the Wildcats had the answers behind guard Kevin Lisch (16 points) and centre Matt Knight (14 points, eight rebounds).
Import pair Seth Scott (16 points, nine rebounds) and Kevin Braswell (18 points) led the Tigers after Chris Goulding (16 pts) cooled from a hot start.
The Tigers had their chances but were undone by 25 turnovers and allowing Perth 15 offensive rebounds.
There were four ties and seven lead changes through the first quarter as both teams tried to find a way to break down the respective defences.
That first crack appeared at the Tigers end, the Wildcats putting on a 17-4 run bridging quarter-time for a 34-21 edge.
The home team struggled to score as Perth found a way to quieten Goulding and Scott after they combined for 19 first-period points.
A key for the Wildcats through the second period was Lisch, showing why he was last season’s MVP with classy back-to-back threes.
But they were surprisingly his team's last baskets of the half as the Tigers put on an 8-0 run fuelled by Braswell, who capped it with a jumpshot at the buzzer.
The Tigers had cut Perth’s lead to 41-37 at the half and they did not cool during intermission, bumping the run to 12-0 and tying the game on Matt Burston’s backdoor cut.
Knight steadied the Wildcats, but it was only momentary as Goulding, Scott and Braswell combined to give the Tigers their first lead since the opening period.
The game of thrust-and-parry continued as Perth put on an 11-3 surge to lead 62-56 at the end of three quarters.
That six-point buffer proved enough for the Wildcats, the Tigers pulling within one before Perth's defence sparked a 12-4 run to the buzzer to put the game to bed.
Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge was thrilled with his team’s 3-0 start, admitting in his heart of hearts he had not considered it likely.
“Personally, I would have been pleased if we started with three wins from five games,” he said.
"We’ve worked on our fitness and we’re in better shape than last season and we’re probably catching a few teams napping right now.”
Tigers coach Chris Anstey still has plenty of faith in his team, admitting it was undone by self-inflicted wounds, especially in the fourth quarter.
“We just got out-worked in the last quarter with second shots and turnovers down the stretch really hurt us,” Anstey said.
“We can compete with the best teams in the league. We’ve just got to put four quarters together. We worked too hard and played too well in patches to make the mistakes that we did.”
Perth Wildcats 74 (Lisch 16, Knight 14, Redhage 13)
Melbourne Tigers 65 (Braswell 18, Scott 16, Goulding 16)
Crowd: 5256 at Hisense Arena, Melbourne.