The Perth Wildcats increased the gap between the top two and the rest of the NBL with a dominant 78-58 win over the Melbourne Tigers on Thursday night.
When reigning NBL MVP Kevin Lisch decided to take over in the third quarter the Tigers had no answer and the Wildcats opened up a 15-point three-quarter-time advantage.
The win improved the Wildcats to an 18-5 record on the season to remain just two losses behind the top-placed New Zealand Breakers, but more importantly eight wins clear of the third-placed Tigers.
Shawn Redhage top-scored for the Wildcats (17 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists) in a strong all-round game. Lisch had 14 points, seven in the third quarter and Matt Knight 12 and six rebounds.
"I think in that first half we just lacked a whole lot of faith and trust for each other defensively, but in the second half we showed how good we are," Wildcats coach Rob Beveridge said.
Adam Ballinger worked hard for the Tigers to finish with 15 points, five rebounds and two assists. Jonny Flynn struggled up against some ferocious defence with 12 points but four turnovers and 4-of-12 shooting.
It was a frustrated Tigers coach Chris Anstey post-match, but he was left with the feeling that he desperately wants to face the Wildcats again in the finals.
"I'm not going to comment on the referees, but I will be asking Chuck Harmison and Peter Carey a lot of questions on Monday," he said.
"I'm not paying $1000 for this press conference, but it's a tough place to come and play at the best of times. Perth are too good.
"I hope we come here again and if we do, we cross our fingers."
Anstey may have been keeping quiet but Flynn had plenty to say about the referees.
"It's hard to win eight against five," the former NBA first-round draft pick told Perth Now, referring to the three on-court officials.
"We didn't have our best game - hats off to Perth. But you can't have outside things affecting the game.
"You've got guys playing their heart out, trying to fight for a finals run, and you have these outside things impacting the game. It's just sickening.
"I don't know if Perth is a city that kidnaps referees or anything like that. I don't know."
Who is the most important player for the Tall Blacks at the World Cup?