Jackson snatch Game 1
IT SURE DIDN’T TAKE long for Lakers to find themselves in another epic play-off game – or the losing end of it.
A controversial last-second call led to Peter Alleyne’s game-winning free throw with 1.2 seconds left as British American Insurance Jackson rallied from down 20 to steal Thursday’s pivotal Game 1 of their first-round Premier League basketball series against Lumber Company Lakers 66-65 at the Wildey Gym.
You couldn’t have scripted the latest chapter of this storybook rivalry any better, with the underdogs Jackson pinching an improbable win in what has become the teams’ see-saw showdown.
It proved just another of a long list of classic postseason heartbreakers for Lakers, who similarly dropped last year’s finals to Cavs in memorable fashion after losing two overtime marathons and a last-second one-point thriller.
And yet none of those contests could quite match the gut-wrenching finish of this one, after André Lockhart was forced to watch his certain game-winner roll out in the dying moments.
If that wasn’t enough, Ricardo Jemmott got whistled for a push in the back in the tussle for the ensuing rebound, sending Alleyne to the line for the tie-breaking free throws with 1.2 ticks remaining.
Worse yet, Lakers never even got off another shot, as Alleyne calmly sank the first before intentionally missing the second to prevent them from using their last timeout.
It was the unlikely finish to a contest that Jackson clearly didn’t think was necessary to show up for until half-time, having fallen behind by as many as 20 points (39-19) in the second quarter.
This is after Jackson went scoreless for the game’s first four minutes while dropping into a 13-0 hole by unimaginatively trying to post-up Lakers’ smaller guards each time down the floor.
However, Alleyne and company probably thought they survived the worst, until Lockhart came off the bench for successive treys and Ian Alexander erupted for nine quick second-quarter points as part of a 17-9 run.
But Lakers didn’t score a single field goal in the ensuing third, managing just five free throws in that period as the game unexpectedly turned when Jemmott landed badly on his back from a missed dunk attempt.
The resulting run was as crippling as Jemmott’s pain. Alleyne outscored Lakers himself on three baskets, none better than an off-balanced, one-foot triple to beat the buzzer that capped a surreal 24-3 run and gave Jackson their first lead of the game (45-42).
And when he wasn’t dictating the action, Manuel Alleng and Levar Greaves were either forcing the issue in transition or Pearson Griffith was working one-on-one in the paint.
That rally seemingly came to an end at the start of the fourth, though, as Lockhart threatened to take over the contest with three successive jumpers to put Lakers ahead by as much as three (56-53).
The overseas-based point guard added a floater for good measure before Adrian Allman was fouled shooting a three-pointer to give Lakers a 65-63 lead inside the final minute.
But Kevin Austin locked the scores on the very next possession via a face-up jumper, leaving Lockhart with 21 seconds to win the game on an isolation move.
Alleyne finished with a game-high 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Griffith had 13 and 10 and Greaves scored 12.
Lockhart and Allman scored 16 points apiece for Lakers, who will look to force a decisive Game 3 tonight at the Barbados Community College.