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Perth Wildcats the team to beat in NBL

AAP logoAAP 23/10/2016 Michael Ramsey

Reigning premiers Perth Wildcats reinforced their credentials as the team to beat in the NBL while Sydney strengthened their title bid with another star signing.

The Wildcats climbed to top of the ladder with Sunday's win over Melbourne United at Hisense Arena but again did things the hard way after scraping over the line in their previous wins.

Perth led by 12 points halfway through the final quarter but Melbourne cut the deficit back to three points, only for point guard Cedric Jackson to shoot an airball and deny United a chance at overtime.

It was a familiar tale for the Wildcats, who have almost thrown away each of their victories this season with poor showings in the final quarter, including Friday's 80-73 win over the Illawarra Hawks at Perth Arena.

"You know that the home side's always going to give that last gasp and it was lucky we had enough breathing space," coach Trevor Gleeson said on Sunday.

"We're not firing on all cylinders at the moment. To get that win today is huge and there was a big heart that got us over the line."

For Melbourne, it was another game where a dismal three-point shooting performance - hitting just 20 per cent of their shots from beyond the arc compared to Perth's 38 per cent - proved the difference.

United will remain without star Chris Goulding for Thursday's trip to Cairns, with the shooting guard yet to recover from an ankle injury sustained in Friday's 78-70 win over the Brisbane Bullets.

Breathing down the Wildcats' necks at the top of the ladder are second-placed Sydney, who downed the New Zealand Breakers 78-69 on Thursday and will host Illawarra in the final game of the round on Monday night.

The Kings bolstered their already high-powered roster with the signing of former Los Angeles Lakers point guard Steve Blake, replacing Michael Bryson who was released from his contract after just four NBL games.

Blake will team up another former Laker in power forward Josh Powell, who has already made an impact with his aggressive play in the opening rounds, as well as reigning MVP Kevin Lisch.

Elsewhere, scoring machine Jerome Randle dropped 23 points and eight assists to help the Adelaide 36ers to an easy 83-67 home victory over winless Cairns, while the Brisbane Bullets returned to the winner's circle with an 88-82 triumph over the Breakers.

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