LIONS may have missed out on the BBL play-offs, but they saved one of their best performances for last as they hammered Plymouth Raiders in their final home game of the season on Wednesday night.
Mike New’s men now conclude their campaign away at Durham Wildcats on Saturday, and will make the long trip to the north east in good spirits after beating Raiders 128-113 in a remarkable clash at the Lions Arena.
The result ends Plymouth’s hopes of a second place finish, and for Lions getting one over on the Devon club was hugely significant after losing to them three times this season, most recently just 12 days ago.
Both sides traded baskets in the early exchanges of the contest as Raiders took an early 5-6 lead, but that was the last time the visitors would be in front as a Demarius Bolds basket gave Lions a 7-6 lead that they would never relinquish.
A Nuno Pedroso three-pointer gave the home side a 12-point advantage at 36-24 towards the end of the opening quarter, but Raiders trimmed the deficit to seven points at 33-26 at the end of the opening period.
The second quarter saw both teams trade baskets once again during the early exchanges and the visitors remained within 10 points at 50-40 midway through the period, but Lions once again extended their lead thanks to a 14-4 burst to take the score out to 64-44, and they maintained their advantage heading into the locker rooms, leading 66-48 at the half.
In the second half, a 9-2 start from Lions gave them a 25-point lead at 75-50. Raiders spent much of the third quarter playing catch up and managed to trim the deficit to 12 points at 91-79 towards the end of the quarter, but Lions held onto their extensive advantage as they headed into the final stanza leading 95-79.
In the final period, the visitors tried desperately to close the game and managed to get themselves to within nine points at 119-110 with 1m 31s remaining in the contest, but Lions secured the victory thanks to a 9-3 finish to the game to give them the all-important victory.
Bolds led all scorers in the game with a huge 40-point haul for Lions, while Jeremy Bell led the scoring for the visitors with 24.