• Brisbane have now won four of their past five games and remain fourth on the ladder with an 8-7 record
• The Bullets eight wins from 15 games is one short of the nine wins they recorded all of last season
• Perth have lost their last three games in a row and four of their last five to have lost top place on the ladder for the first time this season
• Brisbane and Perth are the first teams to complete their four-game series for the season with both teams winning both their home games
• Cameron Gliddon led the scoring for Brisbane with 24 points – his career best at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre (11 games)
• Mika Vukona recorded four blocks for the first time in his 16-season, 435-game career
• Brisbane score 90 points for sixth game in-a-row – their best streak since returning to the league
• Perth posted just five points off the bench – the least by any team in any game this season (Steindl all five points)
The Perth Wildcats have suffered their third straight NBL defeat in their 93-86 loss to the Brisbane Bullets on Friday night.
It was the second time this season the Bullets have claimed the scalp of what was the NBL’s top team and they had to do it the hard way, overcoming a 14-point third quarter deficit to secure the vital win.
A second-quarter brain explosion from Mitch Norton didn’t help Perth’s cause, the guard giving up a personal foul, a technical foul and an unsportsmanlike foul to find himself ejected from the game.
But it was a rugged game with plenty of contact and ferocity, ultimately won by Brisbane’s poise down the stretch that went missing in their loss to Adelaide last week.
Cam Gliddon was the pick of the Brisbane shooters with 24 points while import Lamar Patterson piled on 17 points and eight rebounds despite falling into foul trouble. Mika Vukona had four blocks in a huge return from injury.
Bullets coach Andrej Lemanis praised his side for coming back from another deficit, a trait that Brisbane has shown many times this season.
“I thought the second half was pretty good, even when we were down,” he said.
“We stayed in the fight, stayed together and kept trying to execute our game plan. We found a way through against a good team, a tough team. We showed some real heart tonight.”
Bryce Cotton (29 points) did the usual damage for Perth and was assisted by Nick Kay with 22 points and six rebounds.
Perth coach Trevor Gleeson lamented a poor fourth quarter where Brisbane dominated the offensive boards while the Wildcats had their own struggles with ball possession to concede top spot to Sydney with the loss.
“That was pretty disappointing from our end. At critical parts of the game they came up with the big plays,” Gleeson said.
“Full credit to Brisbane, they played out of their skin, Vukona was a beast on the boards … they worked their tails off and their desire was greater than ours, which was disappointing.”
A heavy collision between Perth big man Tom Jervis and Jason Cadee saw the Bullets guard fall heavily to the floor in the dying seconds of the opening term. The contact did not draw a whistle, but Cadee was in obvious pain and limped from the court with an ankle complaint.
It had been an arm wrestle for most of the term to that point, but some sloppy turnovers from Brisbane gave Perth opportunities that the visitors cashed in on, taking a slim 22-18 lead into the first break.
Norton gave away two fouls for heavy checks in the opening exchanges of the second quarter, including an unsportsmanlike foul that allowed the Bullets to cut the margin to two points.
Norton’s night went from bad to a nightmare, issued a technical foul for a flop and consequently ejected from the game, but the Bullets were denied the continuation and the Patterson bucket.
Cadee returned to the court after treatment late in the quarter, but it was the battle of big men Angus Brandt and Matt Hodgson that was the main spectacle.
The two Boomers centres battled end to end and both delivered monster dunks in their battle for ascendency.
Late long-range daggers from the Perth imports Cotton and Terrico White hurt Brisbane, as did a late unsportsmanlike foul on Jeremy Kendle in the dying seconds, as the Wildcats took a 48-42 lead into half-time.
The Bullets needed to find a way to contain MVP Cotton, who had 18 points by half-time and was clutch with his ability to catch and shoot at will.
But then if you focus on one import, another will come out and hurt you – as White showed with the first three buckets of the third term which opened up a 13-point lead for the Wildcats.
Another triple from White threatened to shut the Bullets out of the game, but the home side flipped things around with a series of big plays. First, Hodgson effected a block on Cotton and then raced up court for the tip-in basket.
Then a Nick Kay travel paved the way for a Gliddon triple and suddenly Brisbane was back within seven points.
That margin was soon cut to three as the Bullet stormed back into the match and when the whistle for three quarter-time sounded, the Wildcats were only holding onto a slender 67-66 lead.
The Bullets went into the final quarter with star import Patterson on four personal fouls, but found the grind, the hustle and finally the electric brilliance of Gliddon with a breakaway steal and basket to find the lead midway through the term.
And Cameron Bairstow came up clutch in the final minutes with a series of baskets, second chance opportunities and rebounds to secure the win for Brisbane.
NBL ROUND 10
BRISBANE BULLETS 93 (Gliddon 24, Patterson 17, Bairstow 13)
PERTH WILDCATS 86 (Cotton 29, Kay 22, White 17)