The Guangsha Lions, currently sitting in 3rd place in the CBA, have cooly demonstrated they are more than just Wilson Chandler plus four guys. In a special piece, Niubball writer Edward Bothfeld reports on the side that will be waiting for them in Hangzhou, and who last night took on Shandong.
Riding an eight-game win streak into Sunday’s match up against Qingdao, the Zhejiang Guangsha Lions were third in the CBA standings and the talk of the Chinese basketball world. However, after a lethargic and disappointing loss, Guangsha needed to redeem themselves Wednesday versus Shandong.
Heavily favored, Guangsha came out rolling in the first half with Shandong playing as if they expected to lose. Led by Wilson Chandler (10 points), P.J. Ramos (13 points), Jin Lipeng (12 points), and Wang Bo (11 points), Guangsha found themselves up by 15 at the break in what seemed like would be a blowout victory.
The second half, however, played out much differently. Guangsha was complacent, committing careless turnovers (P.J. Ramos had 7), and missing numerous lay-ups. Ramos alone missed so many bunnies that the P.A. announcer started a, “P-J, jai you” (go P.J.!) chant in the fourth quarter.
Shandong took advantage of Guangsha’s poor play and methodically plugged away at the lead, with Alan Anderson leading the way by hitting numerous off-balance shots in the lane. Halfway through the fourth quarter, the game was tied.
At this point, Chandler decided to go into beast mode and scored 11 of his team’s final 16 points. Three-pointer, 85-82. Runner in the lane, 87-82. Defensive rebound, another midrange jumper, 89-85. Running bank shot, 93-90. Turn-around, fade away jumper at the free-throw line, 95-92, 36 seconds left.
Shandong called timeout and drew up a play for Alan Anderson. With the ball, he came off a screen and stopped at the top of the arc, pump-faked, and drew a foul while attempting a three.
After Anderson sank each free throw, Guangsha declined to call a timeout. They walked the ball up the floor and put it in the hands of Wilson Chandler. However, the play broke down and with only 7 seconds left, Wei Zhang found himself in the corner with the ball. His shot was way off mark, hitting the side of the backboard. Othello Hunter tapped the rebound to Alan Anderson who then sprinted to the other end for an uncontested dunk, giving Shandong their first lead of the game with only 1.6 seconds remaining.
Coming out of a timeout, Coach Jim Cleamons surprisingly designated Chandler as the inbounder. With P.J. Ramos attracting a lot of defensive attention under the basket, Chandler found Jin Lipeng in the opposite corner. He hesitated and took one dribble to the right before releasing a high arcing three as the buzzer sounded that hit nothing but the bottom of the net, giving Guangsha the 87-97 victory.
After the game, Jim Cleamons commented on how Guangsha managed to squander their lead. “We were playing some very irrational basketball, we just kind of petered [our lead] away. We started playing scared, tentative. We were draining the shot clock and not taking good shots. We watched a nice comfortable lead evaporate in front of us.”
“We had two options (Ramos was the first) and Lipeng was one of the options and he hit a wonderful shot. His experience as a veteran player has helped. He has tremendous faith in his shot. I try to put him into situations that allows him to do what he does best.”
Chandler finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds and Ramos had 24 points and 11 rebounds of his own. With the victory and a Beijing loss, Guangsha is now 14-5 and has a firm grasp on second place in the overall standings.