Surrey Scorchers 85-86 Manchester Giants (23-19, 39-44, 60-58, 76-76)
(Scorchers: Johnson, 21; Ray, 16; Wang, 13 – Giants: Green, 29; Fletcher, 23; Williams, 14)
Aiding the Giants with 29 points, five rebounds, a pair of steals, and two decisive blocks, Tajh Green led all scorers, recording his eighth 20+ point game this season.
Huge contributions from Rahmon Fletcher, who tallied 23 points and nine assists put the Giants back to winning ways.
A confident start by the Scorchers, Andrew Lawrence got the hosts on the scoreboard with a clean elbow jump shot within seconds of the ball being tipped.
Followed up with a top-of-the-arc triple by Jalen Ray, the Scorchers attacked well despite Manchester’s towering inside defensive set-up.
The Giants were nevertheless competent on the attacking front themselves, as veteran guard Fletcher managed to calculate his dribbling to perfection, allowing to get a handful of easy attempts to score.
It remained a close competitive contest throughout the first quarter.
With four minutes remaining in the first, an exchange of three-pointers between Giants forward Green and Scorchers guard Tayo Ogedengbe kept it neck and neck.
However, successfully locating sharpshooter Ryan Martin wide open to drain a three-point shot, the Scorchers edged out the opening quarter, 23-19.
Combining for 14 of their opening 19 points, Fletcher and Green continued their scoring tally heading into the second quarter.
Manchester guard Dirk Williams chalked up his first field goal of the game in the second quarter, putting away a trademark corner three mere seconds into the period.
Green and Anthony Roberson responded fiercely, bringing down numerous offensive rebounds leading to second-chance points for the trailing Giants.
A collection of baskets from Green propelled Manchester ahead 31-35, until Lawrence’s dagger long-ranged effort kept it truly anyone’s game.
Concluding with another Martin triple for the Scorchers and a buzzer beater floater from Fletcher in response, Manchester took a slim 39-44 advantage heading into halftime.
Shakem Johnson was a crucial piece in Surrey’s second half comeback campaign, getting things started early on with an explosive three-point play, able to finish strongly under contact.
With another forced turnover, it was Wang’s turn to put away a crucial bucket for the home side, pulling off an ambitious acrobatic reverse layup without a hitch, tying the game up 44-44.
Green continued to pour in the points, getting a pair of threes to fall as Manchester searched exhaustively for a comfortable lead.
As Surrey continued causing havoc for the Giants’ defence – amassing 14 points from the free-throw line – they nudged ahead of the visitors to round up the third quarter.
The suspense only increased as the final period got underway.
While Nick Lewis secured a swift opening layup to tie up the game once again, Ray replied with a serving of decisive plays to keep Surrey’s chances well and truly alive.
With 5:48 remaining and Surrey doing an excellent job suffocating the Giants offensive flow, Fletcher miraculously converted a deep three to beat the 24-second shot clock, as both teams went all-out for the win.
Highlights continued with a perfect alley-oop combination between Lawrence and Wang keeping the home crowd buzzing with energy – the game tied at 71 apiece.
Fletcher was on-call again for clutch time, executing a powerful drive through traffic to get a crucial layup to drop, before Surrey replied with a crisp layup from Johnson.
With time winding down, Williams found himself at the charity stripe for the Giants.
Making 1/2 attempts at the line, Williams and the Giants side maintained a fragile two-point lead, 74-76.
With 10.6 seconds remaining, the Scorchers pushed the ball down the court hard.
A valiant layup effort failed to connect in Surrey’s last second-effort to salvage a win.
But… There, to heroically tip the ball in to tie the game up was Johnson, forcing an overtime period, to the delight of the home crowd, which erupted ceremoniously.
All-tied up at 76 apiece, overtime play did not disappoint.
Starting out the period, Green was hot out of the blocks, draining another triple, reminding Scorchers fans that he has not gone away.
Moments later, however, Johnson erupted for a massive poster dunk over Giants’ astute rim-protector Legend Robertin, causing crowd to roar.
Not letting the eye-catching play get to them, Manchester responded with a pair of tough Roberson buckets, kissing two layups off the glass, Giants beginning to edge out, 78-83.
With Manchester suffering foul trouble, Surrey chipped away at their advantage, Johnson providing another quintessential and-one play to tie the game up, 83-83.
Seconds later, Wang’s high-flying athleticism came up trumps again, as he got downhill for a two-footed slam in an unstoppable move past the Giants defence, providing Surrey with the lead, 85-83.
But it was not over. Williams successfully drew a foul with 40 seconds left on the clock.
In what must have felt like deja vu, Williams made the first, but missed the second, Giants trailing by one.
Reacting by anchoring down their full-court defence, Manchester managed to choke-up Surrey’s transition, forcing an eight-second backcourt violation, regaining possession at a vital time in the game with just 30 seconds to spare.
Getting the side-line ball into Fletcher, the Surrey defence were glued to all yellow jerseys allowing virtually nowhere to go for the Manchester attack.
But with Fletcher handling the rock and his prowess in getting through clutch situations, he delivered an awkward pull-up jump shot from the top of the key, sinking it to take an 85-86 lead with 18 seconds remaining.
Surrey frantically looked for an avenue back into the game, but a defiant block from Green signified the end to the game, Giants securing a thrilling victory to turn their league record to a positive 11-10.
Commiserations for the Scorchers, whose mix of captivating plays and supportive crowd made for a gripping ball game.
Nevertheless, Surrey move to 2-19, remaining bottom of the standings.
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