The Riders added another win to a four-game streak tonight after a 91-74 victory over the winless Surrey Scorchers.
In a game that saw the Riders limit their opponents to just 32% from the floor, solid defence and hustle on the boards built the foundations for victory.
Rob Paternostro’s team also kept up their efficient play, hitting at a 44% clip, including 38% from three-point range.
Riders’ captain Kimbal Mackenzie was the catalyst for success, scoring 22 points from the bench whilst also collecting six rebounds and dishing six assists.
Physical guard Jaren Holmes also lit up the scoreboard, dropping 18 points on the night, including a deadeye four of five from downtown.
Andrew Lawrence top-scored for the Scorchers with 12 points, and key-man Saiquan Jamison put up 11 points and nine rebounds, but they never recovered from a low-scoring third quarter.
Immediately after the first tip, the game became a clash of contrasting styles, with the Riders cutting through lanes and attacking the basket and the Scorchers preferring to pull back and hit the three ball.
As he has done consistently this season, Miryne Thomas opened the Riders’ account with a simple layup after getting free inside.
Seconds later, Braelen Bridges slammed down a dunk following a clean pick n’ roll with Xavier Pinson and, with Holmes knocking down seven early points, Leicester’s offense looked good.
The Scorchers didn’t let the home side escape though, keeping parity on the scoreboard through effective rebounding and accuracy from deep. As predicted, Jamison was proving to be a handful on the boards.
The first quarter buzzer sounded with the score at 24-21 Riders, Holmes knocking down a big three to break the tie.
The second stanza was all about Mackenzie.
The Riders’ captain brought an immediate impact from the bench, pulling up and popping off a long two, before willing the Riders to crash the glass harder and create open looks from deep.
Samuel Idowu was also providing quality off the bench, battling Jamison for every rebound and contributing with seven points.
Leicester’s second unit quickly built an eight-point lead, but Surrey’s 6’8″ centre was a consistent problem inside, leading the visitors at the half with 11 points and four boards.
A cold snap for both teams towards the end of the half was broken by Thomas with a neat move in the paint, before Mackenzie and Holmes drove the Riders to a useful nine-point lead at the half.
The second half began in low-scoring fashion with both teams struggling to find a bucket.
The visitors hit on a couple of free throws, but it wasn’t until Holmes drained a corner three – three minutes into the half – that there was a score from the field.
Strong hustle on defence – led by Caleb Asberry – limited the Scorchers to contested shots, and once the Riders’ shooters warmed up, the lead grew.
Once Holmes hit his fourth deep ball, the scoreline sat at 61-47, Riders ahead.
A couple of quickfire Scorchers buckets on the fast break teased a fightback, but a pair of successful trips to the line by Mackenzie maintained the lead.
The final quarter saw Paternostro’s squad aiming to put the game beyond doubt helped by the experienced Conner Washington hitting a pinpoint three.
It soon became ‘heat check’ time for the Riders, entertaining the home crowd with back-to-back threes from Thomas and Lall.
The contest wound down towards the final buzzer in competitive fashion, but Leicester’s defence never let the Scorchers get close enough to cause concern.
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