Perth Wildcats have shrugged off weariness to deliver a comfortable 100-79 victory over Cairns Taipans and stay in the hunt for the NBL minor premiership.
The two-time defending champions overcame a slow start at RAC Arena on Friday night to dominate the lowly Taipans.
The Wildcats are in the midst of a torrid schedule of six games in 11 days with the brutal run ending against the 36ers in Adelaide on Sunday.
So to ease the burden on his tired starters, coach Trevor Gleeson utilised the Wildcats' bench and tinkered with unconventional line-ups.
Reigning MVP Bryce Cotton played just 26 minutes and scored nine of his 19 points in a decisive third term burst.
Boom recruit Will Magnay played his best game for the Wildcats and grabbed a season-high nine rebounds in 22 energetic minutes.
Bottom-placed Cairns (7-24) were competitive early before falling away with sharpshooter Mirko Djeric (15 points) playing a lone hand.
The Wildcats (23-9), who have already locked up a remarkable 35th straight finals appearance, remain hot on the heels of league leaders Melbourne United (24-7).
The teams clash in the final round of the regular season on June 4 in Perth.
"It's been a battle with the travel we've done but we weathered the storm and we really lifted the defence in the second half," Cotton told ESPN.
"It was good to give some of the younger players some minutes and experience tonight."
Notoriously slow starters, Cairns came out firing and hit five shots from beyond the arc to surprisingly edge ahead 28-26 at the first break - just the second time they've led at quarter-time in their last 12 games.
Magnay, a defensive specialist, has made a slow start in his NBL return but an emphatic rejection early in the second stanza fuelled the Wildcats.
The home side threatened to break the game open but the Taipans clawed back to trail 47-42 at half-time.
The Wildcats made their move after the break with Cotton's three-pointer from the corner stretching the margin to double digits.
The NBL's leading scorer found his groove and nailed consecutive long bombs to give the Wildcats a 24-point lead.
The gallant Taipans pegged the deficit back in the final quarter, which forced Cotton back into the game, but the Wildcats were never seriously threatened as they celebrated Gleeson's 450th game as coach in style.