BBL: London Lions 93 Leicester Riders 72
PUBLISHED: 11:30 02 April 2018
Fresh from beating Newcastle, the team currently sitting in second in the BBL table, the London Lions did it again on Easter Sunday, beating leaders Leicester Riders at the Copper Box Arena.
If the Lions were in any way tired after having played three games in four days, it didn’t show.
Instead it was Leicester who looked sluggish and struggled to handle London, who put themselves third in the BBL after this win.
It was an all-round team performance, as Cory Dixon (20 points, 10 rebounds) and Brandon Peel (18 points, 14 rebounds) both put up double doubles, while Justin Robinson was top scorer with 25 points.
Dixon, who deservedly took the fans Most Valuable Player award for the game, started things off in style.
Having made several crucial shots in the game against Newcastle, he was back at it early doors.
Frustrating the Riders defence, who just couldn’t seem to stop him, he made shot after shot and, by the time Leicester took a timeout with 2.15 left in the first quarter, Dixon had been responsible for 12 of the Lions 16 points.
He was just getting started. Leicester threw everything at defending him, leaving Paul Guede open to nail a three-point shot and extend the lead to 12 with 34 seconds still remaining in the first quarter.
Leicester bought it back to 10 with 16 seconds on the clock, before Peel, seemingly effortlessly, beat the buzzer to finish the quarter 23-11.
It was quickly a 16-point game as Guede and Jerelle Okoro both made two-point shots.
But despite being off their game, you always sensed a Leicester comeback was a real possibility given the quality on their bench.
With turnovers, fouls and missed shots, the Lions found their lead had dropped to just six points with half of the second quarter gone.
It was time for Dixon to step up again, making two crucial free throws before jump shots from him and Peel restored the lead to 10.
It would hover around that mark before a series of free throws for Leicester took it down to five.
And this time, it was the turn of Robinson to steady nerves, sinking a beautiful shot from long range to give the Lions an eight-point lead with two minutes of the half remaining.
Despite plenty of effort on both sides, including a sweet three from Andre Lockhart, that’s how it would stay going into the break as the Lions led 44-36.
Any thoughts Leicester were having of a comeback in the third quarter were dashed as the Lions put on a show, winning it 26-15.
Dixon again started the half strong, putting away four early points to take the lead to 12, before Robinson’s steal and layup not only left the leaders standing, but the crowd on their feet.
Nothing Leicester could do would eat away at that lead, as back-to-back threes from Guede gave the Lions an 18-point margin.
With two minutes left in the quarter, Leicester frustrations were starting to show, with chairs flying as a result of an unsportsmanlike foul that Peel used to take the lead to 20.
Five late points from the Riders stopped it being a 24-point lead at the third break and instead it was 70-51.
Leicester had left it all to do in the last quarter, but their frustration got the better of them time and again, as the Lions found themselves going back to the free throw line.
This culminated, with half of the quarter gone, with Leicester coach Rob Paternostro being ejected and Robinson, camped out on the line, making four consecutive free throws to give the Lions a 19-point advantage.
Peel finished the game with an exclamation point dunk with 30 seconds to go and the Lions had handed the Riders only their third league loss of the season, while making it five wins in a row in what has turned out to be a very happy Easter for coach Vince Macaulay.
The Lions are back in action at the Copper Box on Easter Monday for a friendly against Lithuanian side BC Vytautas, with a 4pm tip, before returning to league business against Plymouth on Wednesday, also at the Copper Box with a 7.30pm start.