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NBL: A-OK for Kay as Wildcats flourish

PERTH tonight made Adelaide's hopes of a return to the NBL playoffs all that much harder as Nick Kay produced a season-best game in its 99-95 win at Adelaide Entertainment Centre.

Kay orchestrated the 36ers' fourth straight loss and the Wildcats' quick bounce back from last round's reversal in Sydney with a season-high 21 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

Earlier it looked as if teammate Dario Hunt (19 points, eight rebounds in his best game as a Wildcat) was going to steal the show as he duelled Sixers' big man Eric Griffin for keyway dominance.

But it was Kay (pictured below) who led the way in a decisive 31-point third quarter as Perth wrested the lead from the home team, Jesse Wagstaff also a factor and Bryce Cotton opening up after a two-point first half.

Adelaide was paced by Daniel Johnson's 23-point, 13-rebound double-double and Jerome Randle's 23 points and six assists, Griffin fading after a strong start but finishing with 18 points.

It was the 36ers' American big who swished a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give them a 10-4 rubber ducky early lead, with eight of his points scored inside the game's first four minutes.

Hunt meanwhile was equally efficient, scoring nine in a first period which closed with a pair of White 3-pointers - the first from Adelaide's Kevin White for a 25-19 buffer, the second from Perth's Terrico White to trim it back to 22-25 at the break.

Little separated the teams through the second period, Cotton sticking his first bucket of the game with 1:07 left to halftime to give Perth a 43-42 lead it surrendered before the break.

Hunt had 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting and six rebounds at the interval, his four-point, two-rebound second half a stark contrast.

But it was Cotton who found his range after the break as Perth came out with greater aggression, Damian Martin again effective without the ball, Adelaide coach Joey Wright (below) forced into a timeout with 3:53 left in the third and Perth ahead 67-60.

Wagstaff's steal for a slow motion layup bumped Perth's buffer to 76-69 shortly before the final quarter, where the scenario got worse for the home team when Clint Steindl's 3-pointer took the lead to 81-72.

Adelaide rallied behind a Randle-inspired run, his layup making it 83-89 before Griffin gave Cotton an unnecessary nudge in midcourt and was called for an unsportsmanlike foul.

Cotton's single free throw make meant no serious damage was done, Randle's 3-pointer with 3:07 left drawing the 36ers to 88-90, fans finding full voice.

Obi Kyei's foul on a Cotton 3-point attempt - the second time in this game a Sixer committed the Cardinal Sin of fouling a 3-point shooter - took Perth's lead back out to 93-88.

Johnson worked hard on the offensive glass to keep the 36ers alive, Anthony Drmic fouled but missing both free throws. An early keyway break on the second attempt meant he received a third freebie which he converted for 89-93.

Martin then manufactured a crucial offensive rebound for Perth which Hunt turned into 95-89.

Johnson's tough inside basket pulled Adelaide to 91-95 but Martin's block of a Randle layup was significant, ultimately leading to Cotton at the stripe with 34.4 seconds remaining.

He made one, Ramone Moore's basket again pulled the 36ers back to 93-96, Randle fouled out with 15 seconds left, Cotton's free throw make pushing Perth out 97-93.

With 7.6 seconds on the clock, Moore's layup made it 95-97 but with 6.2 remaining, Kay was fouled and calmly slotted both free throws to put the result out of Adelaide's grasp.

PERTH WILDCATS 99 (Kay 21, Hunt 19, Cotton 18, White 14, Steindl 10; Hunt, Kay 8 rebs; Kay 5 assts) d ADELAIDE 36ERS 95 (Johnson, Randle 23, Griffin 18; Johnson 13 rebs; Randle 6 assts) at Adelaide Entertainment Centre. Crowd: 6,536

All pics courtesy of ALLSTAR PHOTOS

Nov 15

Content, unless otherwise indicated, is © copyright Boti Nagy.