The Breakers have been brought back down to Earth with a thud, thrashed 89-64 by the Wildcats in Perth overnight (NZT).
It was the second heavy defeat this season to their arch-rivals after Perth thumped them in the opening game at the North Shore Events Centre and they drop to second on the table behind Wollongong. It also gives Perth a crucial 2-0 lead in the head-to-head battle should home court advantage come down to a countback.
Most pundits still expect a Breakers-Perth grand final series but the nature of the Breakers' two defeats to Perth will be a concern. Both have been by more than 20 points and the Wildcats have played with more commitment, intensity and effectiveness.
Perth held a narrow 28-27 lead at the first break but were dominant in the second and third quarters, holding the Breakers to just 16 points and out-rebounding the visitors 41-23, and they looked a much-improved outfit from the one that had lost their last three.
It helped with 11,086 fans watching them in their new arena and Shawn Redhage scored 20 points, Kevin Lisch added 18 points and six rebounds and co-captain Brad Robbins was instrumental early to finish with 11 points and five assists.
Cedric Jackson hit 15 points for the Breakers with Will Hudson adding 12 and Corey Webster 11.
But the Breakers shot just 36.9 per cent from the floor and a lowly 28 per cent from long range.
Coming into the game Redhage had been enduring the leanest period of his career in Perth, but he was on fire early with seven points and two assists in the opening three-and-a-half minutes.
Alex Pledger and Jackson made sure New Zealand kept the scoreboard ticking down the other end and a Redhage buzzer-beater gave Perth a 28-27 quarter-time advantage.
The Wildcats put the foot down with the first six points of the second period and another 7-0 run soon after had the home side up by 12.
The Breakers had just two points in the first seven-and-a-half minutes, but scored six straight late in the term to reduce the gap to 45-35 at half-time.
It was more of the same from the Wildcats in the third quarter, Redhage and Lisch hitting quick baskets and another 9-0 run taking the lead beyond 20.
Threes from Leon Henry, CJ Bruton and Jackson, plus a three-point play to Hudson helped New Zealand get back to within 14 early in the last quarter.
But the Wildcats steadied and Redhage put an exclamation point on the night with an emphatic dunk as Perth cruised to their 25-point win.
The Breakers host Melbourne at the NSEC next Friday.
Perth Wildcats 89 (Shawn Redhage 20, Kevin Lisch 18, Brad Robbins 11) NZ Breakers 64 (Cedric Jackson 15, Will Hudson 12, Corey Webster 11). HT: 45-35.
- additional reporting AAP