Chandler too tough for host to deal with

Updated: 2011-12-30 07:39

By Dusty Lane (China Daily)

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Lions star racked up 44 points and 18 rebounds as Ducks dropped third in a row

BEIJING - Even the scoreboard operator had seen enough of Wilson Chandler.

Chandler turned in a dominant performance against the Beijing Ducks on Wednesday night, putting up 44 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Zhejiang Lions back from a 20-point deficit for a 118-112 victory, the comeback so convincing the sold-out crowd at Shougang Gymnasium began fleeing for the exits before the game had been decided.

Seconds after Chandler swished his final free throws to bring the game to a close, the scoreboard display banged shut over a mostly empty arena that had seen the Lions hand the Ducks their third loss in a row.

"I thought Will played with a lot of heart," said coach Jim Cleamons. "I thought his shot selection for the most part was pretty good.

"Will and (Ducks guard Stephon Marbury) were teammates with the Knicks. We thought once we got close, Will's skill and his knowledge of (Marbury) would be to our advantage."

With the NBA season now in full swing, speculation is already beginning: where will the former NBA star be in three months?

The Lions don't much care. They're just happy he's in China for now.

The Ducks - they're not quite as happy.

There was the usual splendid night from Marbury - 34 points, nine assists, six rebounds - but Beijing's disappointments are adding up quickly. After a serendipitous start in the first half of the season, which saw them leap out to a 13-0 record, there've been consecutive losses to Foshan, Shanghai, and now Lions.

The fast start afforded them a tie for first place with Guandong, but some of the early miracles that had become their trademark feel more miraculous by the day. Are the Ducks in a rough patch, or are they regressing to the mean?

The Lions, on the other hand, seem to be hitting their stride after the late arrival of Puerto Rico's Peter John Ramos, 7-feet, 3-inches of muscle and spite.

"We got PJ four games into the year - we are literally coaching and playing on a daily basis, trying to get familiar with each other," Cleamons said. "Our team has accepted the challenge of trying to get better each game, but we're not a polished basketball team right now."

Neither Marbury, Ramos nor Chandler were available for comment after the game.

Ramos scored 26 points to go with 14 rebounds, muscling to the rim seemingly at his whim in the second half, when he put up 20 of his points.

But Chandler's impact was impossible to ignore.

The Lions trailed at the end of the first quarter, 27-21. By the time he returned from a lengthy sit on the bench, the Ducks' lead had grown to 54-33. Cleamons' decision to bring Chandler back before he'd taken his mandatory full quarter off paid off, as the score was back to a manageable 58-48 at halftime, giving the Lions room to maneuver in the second half.

"We had been down by 20 with less time left (earlier in the season), so I didn't want to wait until halftime and be down 20," Cleamons said. "I thought I'd be more proactive rather than sit back and wait for something to happen, so I thought I'd take the risk and try not to let the game get away from us."

The game didn't get away from the Lions.

And the season's not getting away from the Ducks, for that matter, but it's not getting much easier either.

China Daily

(China Daily 12/30/2011 page24)