It wasn't pretty but the Perth Wildcats have extended their winning streak to nine straight after outlasting NBL arch-rivals Sydney Kings 73-69.
The reigning champions shot at just 38 per cent from the field (27 from 71) and only 6-29 from three-point range but did enough to hold out a Kings outfit hobbled by a season-ending injury to Dejan Vasiljevic.
In a major blow to the Kings' championship hopes, Rookie of the Year favourite Vasiljevic has been booked for surgery after breaking down at Qudos Bank Arena in the second quarter with a ruptured achilles.
The Kings fought valiantly without Vasiljevic but it wasn't enough to stop ladder leaders Perth (15-4 record) extending their season record to 4-0 against the hosts in their grand final series re-match.
Sydney (10-11 record) dropped from fourth to fifth after their third loss in seven games but had their chances in a tight tussle which produced just 21 points in the third term - the lowest scoring term of the season.
The Wildcats are now in sight of a club record 12 straight victories set in 2000-2001.
"We couldn't buy a basket in that (third) period. It was a tough, physical game," Perth coach Trevor Gleeson said.
"You have to find different ways to win. Some days you shoot the lights out, sometimes you have to grind away.
"The grit we showed to find a way to win was first-class."
Reigning NBL MVP Bryce Cotton (23 points, six assists) was again impressive but it was Perth teammate John Mooney (21 points, 10 rebounds) who proved the difference, coming up big to help the visitors reel in the Kings' four-point lead midway through the final term.
For Sydney, import Casper Ware (20 points, five rebounds) had plenty of support with Vasiljevic sidelined and Jarell Martin largely sidelined due to foul trouble.
Martin finished with 16 points from 18 minutes but was put on ice for a major slice of the second half after running up four fouls.
Didi Louzada (13 points) loomed as the match winner, dropping the first seven points of the final term to give the Kings an early fourth quarter buffer before Mooney reignited the visitors.
Kings bench weapon Tom Vodanovich also chimed in with 10 points.
There were encouraging signs for Sydney but there was little that could comfort them after confirmation of Vasiljevic's serious injury.
"It's a full rupture. We are organising surgery now. It's a massive hit. We will try to do our best to manage with his absence," Kings coach Adam Forde said.
Australian Associated Press