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BEIJING - Stephon Marbury snatched a game-high 30 points plus nine rebounds and eight assists as Beijing Ducks cruised past Shanxi Zhongyu 3-2 with a 110-98 home victory on Sunday, making it to the CBA finals for the first time.
Stephon Marbury raised his arms as Beijing Ducks beat the Shanxi Brave Dragons 110-98 to clinch a CBA Finals berth in Beijing on Sunday. [Photo/Xinhua]
As the final whistle went, Marbury covered his face with both hands, bursting into tears. During his 16-year basketball career, it's the first time for him to get into any finals.
The 35-year-old Marbury, who played 13 seasons in the NBA with Minnesota, New Jersey, Phoenix, New York and Boston, has been regarded as a hero after leading Beijing to the CBA semifinals in style in his first season with the Ducks.
Randolph Morris added a double-double - 27 points and 10 rebounds, while Shanxi top scorer Marcus Williams suffered cold hand with 25 points, only 8-of-17 in the field as Beijing usurped a double-digit lead on 29-13 in the first quarter and never looked back.
Charles Gaines led Shanxi with 30 points and 14 rebounds.
"I gave all my credit to the players. Tonight they did their best and the game was perfect," said Beijing coach Min Lulei.
"Year after year, game after game, we suffered a lot. Tonight our dream came true and we deserved it," he added.
It was two strongest ever teams for both Beijing and Shanxi in their franchise history. Marbury brought Beijing not only a season-long 13-game winning streak, but a brand-new basketball philosophy in both offensive and defensive ends. He led Beijing with 26.1 points per game, 12th in CBA, and his 6.2 assists ranked fourth of the whole league.
Starting guard Li Xuelin's recovery from injury gave Marbury more breathing time. In the semifinals against Shanxi, Marbury smashed 50+ points each for two straight games, becoming the second player to achieve that feat in the CBA playoffs history, after Bayi "Warlord" Liu Yudong.
Morris also did a good job with 23.9 points and 9.3 rebounds for supporting Stephon. Beijing's Zhu Yanxi and Zhai Xiaochuan both showed their talent with the latter averaging 11.3 points and 6.7 rebounds.
Shanxi, which enjoyed the heaviest firing power in the league by averaging 110.7 points, has its equivalent to Marbury - Marcus Williams, who averaged a league-third 32.3 points.
His teammate, "Paint Beast" Charles Gaines, averaged 29.2 points and 14.3 rebounds. The foreign duo scored almost two thirds of Shanxi's points. Lu Xiaoming, the local assists king, was an integral part of Shanxi's impressive season.
Shanxi against Beijing was the most drastic semifinal series in CBA's 17-year history, not only because they were close, but also because of a bad-tempered fourth game that caused a fan riot.
Marbury's collision with Shanxi's Ma Kan during the fourth game triggered an angry outburst of the home crowd, who threw water bottles onto the court, interrupting the play for about 10 minutes.
A large group of fans then trapped the Ducks' bus in the parking lot after the game.
It took the Beijing team over an hour to leave the stadium as Shanxi fans attacked the vehicle and shouted obscenities. A Shanxi fan named Cao Lei later accused Marbury of hitting him in the head with a bottle and kicking his chin after he fell.
Marbury told Beijing Television that he didn't hit anyone and the one who accused him of assault "must have a wild imagination".
"I would never kick or punch a fan," said Marbury on China's Twitter-like Weibo. "That's not my character."
Chinese basketball fans, mainly from Beijing and Shanxi, split over the incident, posting abusive language against each other on their Weibo accounts or Internet chatrooms.
The Chinese Basketball Association on Tuesday fined Shanxi club and its venue 30,000 RMB (about $4,740) apiece for "poor organization" of the game.
In order to give both teams time to make "internal rectifications", the CBA postponed the deciding fifth game from Wednesday to Sunday.
The mudslide occurred at an iron ore mine in the Araltobe township of Xinyuan county, Ili Kazak autonomous prefecture, a spokesman for the prefecture's fire brigade said.