Surrey Heat 91 (22, 40, 65) v London Lions 95 (22, 46, 68)
When the Surrey Heat, winners of their first two games, met the London Lions, looking for their first win in four, at Crystal Palace on Friday night, something had to give. What started as a game of runs turned into an old-fashioned punch and counter-punch fourth quarter in which the team who blinked first lost. Unfortunately for the Surrey fans, it was the Heat who blinked. Having done all the hard work to keep themselves in a game which threatened to get away from them, two poor decisions cost them dear.
With two minutes to go, the Heat found themselves down 80-84, but with the ball in Chavis Holmes’ hands. As he had all night, he proved that his first step was too quick for his man and he sliced to the basket to lay the ball in, cutting the lead to 82-84. After a pair of empty possessions, the Lions had a chance to increase their lead, but they missed a three and Chavis game down with the crucial rebound. Unfortunately for the Lions, Duane James fouled him, and, with the Lions over the limit, it sent the Heat point-guard on the long walk down the other end of the court for two free-throws.
With one minute and nine seconds on the clock, Chavis calmly slotted them both home and tied the game, 84-84. The Heat went for a press, but unfortunately a defensive miscommunication or lapse of concentration cost the Heat dear as Orlan Jackson leaked out for an easy lay-up. Last man back, Chavis Holmes, could only foul him, but not strongly enough, and Jackson’s three-point play put the Lions ahead, 87-84.
On the Heat’s next possession, a hasty pull-up jump-shot was off the mark and James capitalised with another fast break to make it 89-84 to the Lions. However, any thoughts that this was game over were quickly dispelled after a Heat timeout. A beautifully-crafted play saw the ball in the hands of Chavis, who drove baseline, drew the defence and then found Caylin Raftopoulos, fresh off the bench, in the far corner. It was a pin-point pass and Caylin calmly slotted his second three of the game to make it 87-89.
After James could only make one of two from the line, Albert Margai went coast-to-coast, to pull the Heat within one at 89-90 with 31 seconds left. The Heat now needed a stop and for 15 seconds, they kept the Lions out. However, the Lions got the mismatch they wanted, finding ex-Heat forward Mike Martin down on the block and up against Chavis on the switch. The Heat guard smartly fouled Mike before he could start his move for the basket, but unfortunately the referee saw things differently, ruling that Mike was in the act of shooting. The basket counted, and Mike sank the bonus shot to push the lead back to four, 93-89, effectively ending the game for the Heat. Chavis scored again, but Nuno Pedroso iced the game from the line for a final score of 95-91 to the Lions.
The Heat were led by Chavis Holmes’ 24 points to go with four assists and four steals, while Martelle McLemore chipped in with 23 points and six rebounds. Julius Joseph had 11 points and seven assists, while Frank Holmes and Sam Cricelli, who both fouled out, had eight rebounds apiece, Peter Simek chipping in with seven boards.
The Lions were led by another Heat old boy, Tayo Ogedengbe, who had a game-high 27 points to go with eight rebounds, while Duane James had a double-double of 25 points and 10 rebounds. Orlan Jackson chipped in with 20 points, five rebounds and five assists, while Mike Martin had 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
The Heat must now pick themselves up and regroup before the visit of the Worcester Wolves on Sunday, 7th October, 3pm at the Surrey Sports Park. It’s not too late to get your tickets. Book online, call the Surrey Sports Park on 01483 689111 or buy on the door.
Photo courtesy of basketballviews.com