SYDNEY'S improved NBL season hit a massive speed bump in Kevin Lisch and Jesse Wagstaff leading the charge as Perth Wildcats demolished the Kings by 34 points at Sydney Entertainment Centre on Sunday.
Despite the best efforts of Ben Madgen, the Kings never threatened the Cats and looked disjointed, sluggish and bereft of confidence as Perth nailed 15 three-pointers.
"We got exposed by a team that was far more physical," Kings coach Shane Heal said. "We just weren't even mentally or physically ready to be able to compete against a team we have to be able to beat to be any sort of chance to be able to win the league.
"Tomorrow, we will get smashed. Tomorrow will be our hardest session by far.
"We didn't have a crack and that's not good enough. It's unacceptable, I couldn't be more disappointed."
The visitors hit their stride first and pounced on several Kings defensive lapses. They were slow to recover from turnovers and the Wildcats staged swift counter-attacks.
Kings point guard Corin Henry lit up the second half the last time these two teams met and it was no surprise to see Perth applying a high-pressure game to shut out the nimble American. An Everard Bartlett three-pointer with three minutes to go gave the Wildcats a 12-point breathing space late in the quarter. The Kings managed only 24 per cent from the field and trailed 29-11 at the first break.
Sydney couldn't find a way through Perth's strong defence after the restart and Lisch continued to cause havoc as the Wildcats extended their lead early in the second quarter.
A time-out let the Kings regain their composure and Darnell Lazare and Graeme Dann led a fightback in defence as Madgen and Henry pulled the strings at the opposite end.
A three-pointer by Wagstaff and another by Lisch dampened the Kings' chance of a comeback. Henry reduced the deficit to 21 with two from the line on the stroke of half-time.
Sydney had no reply to the Lisch onslaught in the third as the match continued to unravel for Heal's men. In a sign the Kings had lost their grip on the game, Heal was punished for a technical foul when Perth was already at the line and they extended their lead to 29 without a challenge.
Heal brought on Luke Martin in an attempt to stir his side and the move created more opportunities but poor finishing cost them easy baskets. Jarrad Weeks made amends for two earlier misses from the line with a three-pointer to breath life back into the Kings.
An offensive foul by Perth gave Madgen a chance to net another basket but as the Kings began to build momentum, Perth's Greg Hire hit a three to push the visitors to a commanding 71-47 lead at the final break.
Lazare surged through the Perth defence to net the first basket of the fourth quarter to give the crowd of 6788 a glimmer of hope but three-pointers by the Lisch, Wagstaff and Bartlett thwarted any chance of a Sydney revival. Madgen had an equal game high of 22, shared with Lisch.