Sydney Kings shade Perth in NBL thriller

Improving Sydney have underlined their right to be considered among the NBL's genuine contenders with a hard-fought 77-72 home win over ladder leaders Perth on Thursday.

The Kings led by 15 in the second quarter and by 13 early in the final quarter at Qudos Bank Arena.

But Perth, who suffered just their second loss in 12 games, showed all of their renowned resilience to get within one point inside the last five minutes of the match.

Brad Newley and Kevin Lisch each scored 16 for Sydney, while Nick Kay and Terrico White each tallied 17 for Perth; Clint Steindl contributed 16 off the bench.

Perth were again without their league leading scorer Bryce Cotton, but had inspirational skipper Damian Martin back from a calf injury and the tenacious defender helped limit Jerome Randle to a season-low eight points.

A 10-0 run in the second quarter sparked by six straight points from Newley broke open a previously close game and helped push Sydney to a 43-33 half-time lead.

Perth didn't get their first free throw till almost halfway through the second quarter, by which time Sydney had nailed 12 of 14 attempts from the charity stripe.

A nip and tuck first quarter produced seven lead changes, with Andrew Bogut scoring six of Sydney's first ten points.

The Wildcats starters combined for just 17 first half points, only one more than their bench mustered through the first two quarters.

Sydney led by as much as 15 in the third quarter, but Perth slashed the deficit to six as the Kings missed five straight field goal attempts before the home team steadied to hold a nine-point buffer going into the final term.