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BBL-leading Lions suffer a first home loss to champions Leicester ahead of break

PUBLISHED: 12:00 27 November 2018

Justin Robinson in action for the Lions against Leicester Riders (Pic: Graham Hodges)

Justin Robinson in action for the Lions against Leicester Riders (Pic: Graham Hodges)

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London Lions head into a break from BBL action after suffering their first home defeat of the campaign with a narrow 65-63 loss to reigning champions Leicester Riders.

Justin Robinson in action for the Lions against Leicester Riders (Pic: Graham Hodges)Justin Robinson in action for the Lions against Leicester Riders (Pic: Graham Hodges)

The Lions battled hard in a tense finale as the Riders grabbed the points with a last-second basket to seal the win on the buzzer at the Copper Box Arena.

Both teams entered the game with just one league defeat and the Riders’ victory moved them to 5-1 as the Lions, though staying top, drop to 9-2 as their winning run ended one short of a new club record of consecutive victories.

It was nip and tuck to start the game as Riders got off the mark first before Kervin Bristol thumped down a dunk off an assist from Jordan Spencer.

Brandon Peel and Ladarius Tabb both scored, but Burnett and Douse responded for the visitors and it was 14-14 at the end of the first quarter after Burnett’s two free throws.

A 13-2 run to start the second quarter put the Lions ahead in a low-scoring first half.

Both coaches used time-outs to control the play but it was the Lions who went into the locker room up at the half, 31-24.

The third quarter ended up being the Riders’ best as they won it 25-14, leaving the score at 49-45 going into the fourth.

A barrage of three-pointers looked like they would do for the Lions as Riders opened up a nine-point lead at 55-46 with six minutes to play on the back of an unlikely Josh Hibbert trey.

But first Tabb, then Andre Lockhart and Jerelle Okoro scored, the last two being three pointers, to make it 59-56 with two minutes left.

A steal and score from Tabb made it a one-point game at 59-58 but four Riders free throws reopened the gap before Tabb again stole the ball and scored and Lockhart stole it and fed Tabb for the dunk.

That made it 63-62 with 37 seconds left and a well-worked play saw Robinson pop to the corner but his effort missed and Bristol grabbed the rebound and was fouled.

He made one of two free throws to tie the game at 63-63 but the Riders, out of time-outs, found Burnett denied so the ball went to JR Holder who tussled with Tabb before turning left to the basket to shoot. His shot was just a millimetre from being blocked by Bristol, hit high on the back board and dropped in on the buzzer for the win.

The next action for the Lions is on Friday, December 7 in Newcastle for the first leg of the BBL Cup semi-final, with the home leg two days later.

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