NBL Perth Wildcats surge late to surpass Cairns Taipans

Reigning league MVP Bryce Cotton was both the hero and villain in Perth's 88-83 overtime win against the Cairns Taipans on Saturday night.

The star shooting guard carried the Wildcats offence with 26 points and was clutch in key moments, but almost single-handedly lost the game for the visitors in the final second of the match.

Perth led by four points in the dying stages and the only way the Snakes could have levelled the scores was with a foul on a successful three-point attempt.

The Wildcats could have and should have let Cairns take a shot unopposed but Cotton fouled Melo Trimble, who sank the long-range bucket with 0.8 seconds to play.

His extra point from the free throw line was enough to take it into overtime and Perth was forced to do it the hard way on the road.

The win maintained the Wildcats' position at the top of the NBL table with an 8-1 record.

Cairns is 1-7 and those seven losses have come in a row after the Taipans defeated the Bullets in Brisbane in round one.

Perth prevailed without stars Damian Martin, Terrico White and Angus Brandt, and relied on Cotton and the hard work of Mitch Norton.

Norton's ability to stop star Cairns import Trimble was impressive.

The American scored 18 points, but managed just eight in the opening three quarters.

Trimble finished well down on his average of 25 per game and was forced to put away his jump shot and instead dish off seven assists.

He also pulled in 12 rebounds.

Norton made him pay at the other end, scoring 18 of his own points.

"The will to win (is evident). I don't think we played exceptionally well, and we certainly didn't shoot the ball exceptionally well," Wildcats coach Trevor Gleeson said post-match.

"The workmanlike, hard hat on, roll the sleeves up and let's get after it was first class."

Cairns looked like winning their second game of the season when leading by nine in the first half and were dominating the sluggish visitors.

But the Taipans simply didn't have the answer to stopping Cotton.

First-year Cairns coach Mike Kelly will have few positives to draw on this week, but will be encouraged by the final quarter of rookie import Devon Hall.

The beleaguered American has struggled from the field all season, but scored nine points in the final term to end up with 18 for the match.

"I think our guys are showing signs of coming together and trying to really come together defensively and get stops," Kelly said.

"We had some mistakes that were glaring tonight, and we'll look at them and do our best to fix them. All we can do is really try to stay together and I think our guys have done a good job of that."