London Lions rock Glasgow in play-off first leg
PUBLISHED: 16:03 29 April 2017 | UPDATED: 16:03 29 April 2017
London Lions 91 Glasgow Rocks 70
London Lions regained their shooting form from the three-point line in an emphatic win against the Glasgow Rocks in the first leg of the play-offs at the Copper Box Arena.
Kai Williams led the way with 27 points, 21 of them from seven three-pointers and finishing with an astonishing 70 per cent record from the three-point line and 50 per cent from two-point range.
“My team-mates are absolutely outstanding,” said Williams.
“To play with one of the best point guards I believe in the league and one of the best shooting guards in the league and one of the best centers in the league, players that we bring off the bench are unbelievable as well.
“It’s a combination of the guys around me, other teams have to focus a lot on them and not just me.”
Zaire Taylor set the tempo for the Lions in the opening quarter, leading them to an 11-2 run which would change to a 24-5 run with the Lions clicking on all cylinders seven minutes into the quarter.
Taylor was a big key in the Lions win as he scored 17 points accompanied by seven rebounds and five assists, scoring 10 of his 17 in the first quarter to extend their lead as the quarter closed out.
The Glasgow Rocks forced a comeback in the second quarter taking the lead by one point going into the half-time break at 45-44, as Hayden Lescault rallied the visitors with 14 of his 27 points in the quarter.
Rocks also made some crucial three-pointers to narrow the deficit before taking the lead and outscoring the Lions going into the second half.
“Anything can happen in any game, no lead is safe,” added Williams.
“We are playing for an unbelievable chance for this club to play in London at the O2, so keeping that in the back of our mind knowing that our season can be done any week now so we want to play it like it’s our last.”
Lescault posed a problem for the Lions entering the third quarter, but London’s tough defence got the upper hand over the Rocks with Lescault being limited to seven points and allowing them to build on their lead heading towards the fourth.
Williams three-pointers in the third helped the Lions to run away with the lead, improving their shooting from beyond the arc.
Navid Niktash struggled in the first half with scoring but came into the second half with a shooter’s mentality and finished the night with 19 points and nine rebounds, just shy of a double-double.
The Lions lockdown defence in the fourth quarter denied the Rocks any hope of a comeback and a lovely alley-oop for Rashad Hassan and the Lions had their confidence, and a nine-point lead, back again.
As the quarter closed, the Rocks had a bit of a rally, but it fizzled out by the time Williams made yet another behind-the-arc shot.
Throwing everything they could at London, including a frustrating-to-watch repeated foul tactic that has become something of a Rocks trademark, just didn’t seem to work and the Lions finished the game with a 21-point winning margin.
The Lions still have a tough return fixture on Sunday as Glasgow have taught London twice in the past five days that they can overturn double digit leads.
Coach Nigel Lloyd will be wanting to make sure there isn’t a third lesson.
Lions: K Williams 27, Niktash 19, Taylor 16, Owumi 14, Hassan 10, Ikhinmwin 5, Lockhart 0, Wells 0, Moyo 0.