Liaoning 103 @ Guangdong 88: (Liaoning lead 2-0)
Liaoning- Lester Hudson, 31pts (6-of-14 from 3pt), 7 ast, 7 rbs, 3 stls; Li Xiaoxu, 11pts, 14 rbs (7 offensive rebounds)
Guangdong- Yi Jianlian, 23pts, 10 rbs; Zhou Peng, 21 pts (4-of-7 from 3pt)
A comprehensive mauling of Guangdong put Liaoning in the driving seat and now the Leopards will go home looking to seal the deal in front of their own fans.
Led by Lester Hudson, Liaoning were too much for an older Tigers roster. Indeed, other than Yi Jianlian and Zhou Peng, Guangdong’s local guys looked either overwhelmed or unsure of themselves. In particular, the visiting team bullied Guangdong down low, snatching up offensive rebounds and generally being first to the ball every time it came down from the sky.
To his credit, Yi was commendable amid the chaos, dropping three treys before the halftime break to help hold Liaoning’s lead to just four points at the break. But having rested up during halftime, the Leopards opened up a double digit advantage going into the fourth quarter and put the ball in the hands of Hudson to close out the game. The two-time CBA MVP was up to the task and confidently kept the scoreboard ticking over to give the surging Leopards another critical win.
Xinjiang 93 @ Sichuan 96 (OT); (Sichuan lead 2-0)
Xinjiang-Bryce Cotton, 23pts, Li Gen, 22pts;
Hamed Haddadi, 38pts, 21 rbs, 5stls; Mike Harris, 28pts, 15rbs.
Another strong start by Sichuan and an underpar showing by Andray Blatche both contributed to another surprise win by the Blue Whale. As a result, Xinjiang find them in a massive hole and will have to go for broke in the final three games of their play-off series.
As ever, Sichuan relied heavily on their imports and Hamed Haddadi, Mike Harris and Justin Dentmon all were involved in a 17-0 run that helped send the home side in at the break with a 52-44 lead. But in a repeat of the previous game, Xinjiang made a fourth quarter push and in doing so sent a back-and-fourth game into overtime after Li Gen came alive for the Tigers down the stretch.
At this point, Sichuan could have folded but canny play calling by Yang Xuezeng allowed Harris and Haddadi to keep their team ahead of the guests. Sichuan nearly screwed themselves out of the win with seconds to go after a shot clock violation but in the end, the underdogs snuck over the finishing line.