Nearly (Review: 36ers v Wildcats)

Perth 83, Adelaide 80

An injury hampered Adelaide took the fight up to Perth tonight but came up just short, losing 83-80 in a see-saw battle.

Adelaide, missing key players Adam Gibson and Jarrid Frye, started with a somewhat surprising lineup of Ervin/Cadee/Petrie/Anthony/Johnson. Petrie got the first crack at Ennis and matched him well early, his physicality and size proving to be more than handy. Joey Wright (in a very fetching vest and tie) swung plenty of changes early and got all 9 players into the game in the first quarter. This included bringing in Teys ahead of Creek and even giving Daniel Sims a run.

Adelaide went to it's bigs, especially DJ, with regularity while Perth leaned heavily on Redhage and Ennis. The Sixers got out to a 20-11 lead but Perth stormed back to only trail Adelaide by 3 at the quarter, 22-19. Put some of this down to Adelaide running a myriad of lineups and most notably the raw Daniel Sims.

The start of the second was notable for an early Cadee lapse that saw him get a spray from Wright and seat on the bench. It seemed clear Wright preferred the hustle and energy of Teys. When DJ subbed out for the first time in the second, "G-Money" took over and hit a collection of mid-range jumpers. This looked like a smarter, more purposeful offense with better shots being taken from Adelaide's better players.

While the offense looked good, the defense didn't. Adelaide regularly gave up open looks from the top of the key while it struggled to rotate properly off screens. Inside, there was no protector with DJ regularly drawn from the basket or becoming too unaware of where the ball was. Adelaide was very Ennis-aware and Wright seemed to be committed to only Peach or Creek guarding him.

At half-time the Cats lead 43-41. Ennis and Ervin both had 14 to lead their clubs.

Wright showed his ability to "coach on the run" by starting the second half with Ervin, Cadee, Petrie, Johnson, Schenscher. It seemed clear he wanted Schensch in their to protect the rim and also was concerned by BJ's three first-half fouls. It worked initially, with Adelaide getting a 49-47 lead  before Perth went on a 14-11 run to see them hold a 63-58 lead going into the final change.

Adelaide, again on the back of it's bigs, jumped Perth early and had the scores level in less than a minute at 63-63. Adelaide kept fighting but Perth's imports hit some key buckets and forced Adelaide into some shots it didn't want to take. A late Redhage jumper got Perth out to 83-80 but Adelaide still had 19 seconds to score. Adelaide didn't call a timeout and worked the ball around and left it to Anthony Petrie to take a long, deep three from the top of the key to tie the game. It missed and Perth held on for a deserved win.

Perth was well led by Ennis (25 and 4), Wagstaff (15 and 7 in 24 minutes) and eventually Beal and Redhage (11 pts). Here's some notes on Adelaide's players.

Ervin (14,5 and 7 in 32 minutes). Had a big second quarter but a reasonably quiet second half (he didn't score). Made a beautiful pass to Schensch early in the second and finished with a solid 7 assists. Exposed a few times on D but his lack of firepower down the stretch proved costly.

Cadee (6,3 and 3 in 25 minutes). Largely ineffective until the fourth quarter where he hit some key baskets and came up with some big plays. Plays better when he's the clear point man and has confidence going.

Petrie (4,10 and 1 in 29 minutes). Played an unselfish role tonight, focusing on making Ennis work hard. Rebounded well and even got 2 blocks.

Anthony (4,5 and 3 in 15 minutes). Hampered by foul trouble in the first half but showed plenty, especially in the 4th.

DJ (28,6 and 0 in 31 minutes). Looked great on offense and played to his strengths. Still a work in progress at the other end and must fight harder for the loose ball and help more on D.

Teys (1,4 and 0 in 20 minutes). Christopherson numbers right? Teys hustled and played hard but took a few ill-advised shots (especially late in the game). Luxury as a a 10th man.

Schensch (13,2,and 2 in 24 minutes). Nice comeback game but can't play that many minutes and only get 2 boards. Held the offense together at times. Encouraging.

Creek (10,0 and 1 in 16 minutes). Played some good D, hit a nice 3 and made a creative drive late. Seemed to basically split the 3 spot with Peach and it's surprising he didn't get more minutes. Being nursed back I'd say.

Sims (Donuts in 4 minutes). Got on late in first quarter....and Perth went on a 8-2 move. Proved costly but good for him to get a run and see a big crowd. 

Adelaide returns home to face Wollongong next week and should field a full strength lineup

*And yes, I picked the result and margin

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