By Chris Pike, Pagemasters
The Perth Wildcats had no trouble putting another dent in Sydney's finals hopes, hammering the undermanned Kings 83-56 at the Perth Arena on Friday night.
The Kings headed to Perth without their starting backcourt of Corin Henry and James Harvey and centre Ian Crosswhite all on the injured list.
That was always going to make Sydney's job of trying to beat the Wildcats for the first time since returning to the NBL in 2010 extremely difficult, and it turned impossible as the night went on.
Sydney stuck with Perth in the opening quarter, but then the Wildcats kicked it up a gear at both ends in the second period, scoring 20 points on their own and limiting the Kings to just six.
The margin was 20 at half-time and with the Wildcats clinical enough on offence and with Damian Martin and Kevin Lisch ensuring league-leading scorer Ben Madgen had an off night.
Neither side looked particularly impressive in the second half as Perth simply cruised to a 27-point victory in front of 11,343 fans.
Wildcats co-captain Shawn Redhage top-scored with 23 points on an economical 8-of-12 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 from three-point territory.
Matt Knight added 19 points, eight rebounds and three steals to go with 10 points from 200-gamer Rhys Carter.
"I thought in the first quarter we just fouled them way too much and that's why they got their 20 points, but as soon as we eliminated that we played lock-down defence and it was very impressive," Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge said.
"It was then like we shut up shop. When you are up by 20 at half-time you always wonder what you are playing for against a wounded team, but they played with a lot of heart and pride. What I want from our team is that killer instinct that when you have your foot on the throat you keep going."
Darnell Lazare scored 16 points for the Kings to go with nine boards as he tried all he could in the absence of Crosswhite. Madgen scored 16 points, 12 of which came in the second half, but he shot 2-of-14 from the field and 0-of-6 from three-point range. He also had five turnovers.
Aaron Bruce also scored an efficient 13 points for the Kings.
Perth has now won 11 straight games inside the Perth Arena since their opening-game loss to the Adelaide 36ers.
The Wildcats improve to a 20-6 record and will likely finish second, but Sydney now slips to 11-15 with games against Wollongong and Townsville to close the season now potentially must-win affairs if they want to play finals for the first time since returning to the NBL.
"I'm really proud of the guy's efforts. I thought they did really well and I thought we did a great job overall on Lisch, and made other people beat us, but they killed us inside in the first half," Kings coach Shane Heal said.
"We got a lot of open shots that we just didn’t knock down and you need to hit them if you are going to beat a good side on their home court. It didn’t happen tonight, but our guys competed and we will take something out of it for our big game on Friday."
Perth Wildcats 83 (Redhage 23, Knight 19, Carter 10)
Sydney Kings 56 (Lazare 16, Madgen 16, Bruce 13)
Crowd: 11,343 at Perth Arena