Bryce goes bang as Perth refuses to kneel to the Kings

IN a potential preview of some postseason action, the Perth Wildcats held on for a nine-point win over the Sydney Kings, with Bryce Cotton well and truly at the forefront.

It was a highly anticipated matchup between two of the contending sides of the National Basketball League (NBL). The Kings have looked solid in their quest for a third consecutive championship, while the Wildcats have turned things around in emphatic fashion after a slow start to the season. These two sides are playing some of the best basketball in the league, and Friday night’s game at RAC Arena was set to be a blockbuster.

The Kings looked in control in the first half on the back of some tremendous work from Jonah Bolden, who delivered his best performance since returning to the NBL this season. The Sydney forward poured in 19 points – five triples – in the first half alone (en route to 28 points for the match) to help the visitors to a 10-point lead at the main change. However, the Wildcats outscored the Kings 64-48 in the second half to emerge 114-105 winners in a high-scoring affair.

Cotton was at his absolute best in the win over Sydney, top-scoring and placing his claim as a genuine MVP candidate.

Perth Wildcats (114) def. Sydney Kings (105)

Bryce Cotton – 41 points, five rebounds, seven assists, two steals

The Wildcats needed a big performance from someone in the second half after trailing by double-digits, and a vintage showing from their three-time Most Valuable Player (MVP) was just what the doctor ordered.

Cotton scored 28 of his 41 points in the second half, including a whopping 16 in the decisive third quarter, that ended up turning the game in Perth’s favour. It is common knowledge within the NBL that once Cotton gets going, the opposition is in dire straits. As soon as Sydney allowed Cotton to heat up from the field, it was all over.

Cotton nailed 12 shots on 27 attempts, including an extremely 9/14 shooting from inside the arc, slicing up the defence off the dribble and getting to his spots. The superstar guard also made 14 of his 16 shots from the free throw line.

Speaking post-game, Cotton eluded to a missed foul call as a spark that got him going on the offensive end.

“When I felt I got fouled on a certain play and there was no call, I just focused a little bit more and the hoop started to get a little bit bigger,” Cotton said.

“It’s just the competitiveness and always looking for something to get mad at even if you don’t have a reason. But I definitely had a reason this time and I carried that throughout the game.”

Cotton was also an exquisite playmaker throughout the game, helping the likes of Keanu Pinder (18 points) and Alexandre Sarr (15 points) get going from the field.

He is now averaging 30.2 points per game since Perth began its season-defining winning streak, and is still the best player in the NBL.

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