Adelaide 89, Perth 84
Some clutch free-throw shooting by Gary Ervin and brilliant all-around play by Adam Gibson helped the Adelaide 36ers hold off a tenacious Perth Wildcats tonight to send both teams west for the series decider.
Daniel Johnson got Adelaide off to a blazing start, scoring all 7 points in a 7-0 run. Perth came back strong though on the back of a bunch of threes by Martin, Ennis and Redhage. The Sixers learned from Monday, giving Beal no room but laying off Martin. He hit two of his first three attempts but went 1-7 from thereon in. The Sixers played at their pace as opposed to Game 1 and piled on 29 points for the quarter to hold a 29-26 lead at the first break.
Adelaide was at it's all around best in the second, scoring in transition, from range and playing stellar D. Ervin scored 9 (all on threes) and Creek finished a big "And 1" that got the crowd on it's feet. My highlight though of the quarter was a Brendan Teys play that resulted in a James Ennis charge. Ennis had just picked up the ball in the backcourt and raced for the basket with a full head of steam. After crossing the halfway line, Brendan Teys got in front and got in a perfect position that forced Ennis to barrell into him and give the ball back to Adelaide. It's the sort of play that can turn a game.It capped a tough quarter for the Cats who were held to just 15 points and were plagued by foul trouble (ie the opposite of what they experienced Monday). Oh and they went 0/9 on threes for the quarter. Adelaide led 51-41 at the half.
Perth won the third quarter, 22-21, managing to find some baskets while slowing DJ and Ervin. Enter Adam Gibson. He nailed three triples on his way to 12 points for the quarter. For the Cats, Matt Knight and Jermaine Beal came to life, both scoring 8 and helping create some space for each other. Ennis and Redhage racked up more fouls and both went scoreless for the quarter. Adelaide led by 9, 72-63 going into the final quarter.
An 9-0 run by Perth in the middle of the fourth saw a 69-77 deficit turned into a 78-77 lead, thanks to imports Jermaine Beal and James Ennis. Anthony Petrie quickly got the lead back though with 3 free throws from two trips to the line. A Beal "And 1" soon after saw Perth wrestle the lead back, 82-81. Adelaide Arena was nervous. The offense looked had looked stagnant with Ervin either stepping back or playing as a decoy, spending most of the quarter standing outside with Gibbo taking over the ball handling duties. He turned that around though, on the next play finding some daylight and attacking the rim. He was fouled and coolly slotted two free throws to get the lead back. He'd nail all four free throws on his next two trips, ensuring Adelaide got the win and sent Perth home without the trophy. Yet.
It was a game Adelaide was expected to win and they managed to play the game much more on their own terms. The sellout crowd proved a massive boost and willed the team on in the dying minutes. The game was also umpired more in Adelaide's favour, with the umpires punishing any scragging or holding under the basket. How much of that is allowed Sunday will go a long way to determining if Perth can break it's title hoodoo. Adelaide made some good adjustments, such as making sure it's guards wouldn't allow Beal or Ennis into the middle but knows Perth's ball movement and rebounding will be better at home. The Cats will go in as warm favourites and Adelaide will need it's Big 3 to all be huge. DJ will need to stand up on the boards, Ervin must play inside and outside and Gibbo must chip in with some threes and continue to slow whoever he's placed on. Adelaide got some great bench help but will only go as far as those three take us.
Gibson- Great down the stretch and was everywhere, as his near triple-double suggests.
Ervin- Welcome back Gary. FG% not great but he was good. Matters little though if he has another stinker Sunday. Can't have a 15 minute fadeout like he did tonight either.
Teys- Stats lie. He was huge, coming up with several big plays and playing excellent D.
Petrie- Relatively quiet. Worked hard on D but wasn't at his best.
Johnson- Started on fire but foul troubles hampered him. Still chipped in with some handy baskets.
Cadee- The 5 assists surprised me but had a nice dish to Schensch that the crowd liked.
Schenscher- Didn't do enough but got some stinking calls which didn't help
Carter- A big three and block on Ennis in the third his highlights
Creek- Recovered from gastro and did a few good things, his attack on the basket a welcome sight.
Anthony- Perhaps could have got some second half minutes when the bigs were flat. Only played 2 minutes
*Box score from nbl.com.au
|Points from Turnovers: 10 Points in the Paint: 24 Second Chance Points: 14 Fast Break Points: 0|
|Coach: Joey Wright Assistant: Kevin Brooks Richard Dickle|