Hudson hits 37 as Liaoning leads 2-0 in CBA semifinals

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Lester Hudson scored a game-high 37 points to pace Liaoning for a 101-95 home win over Guangdong, winning the first two games in the 2017-18 CBA best-of-seven semifinals on Saturday.

Hudson found his rhythm from the very beginning, knocking down eight of his 13 attempts beyond the arc, while point guard Guo Ailun also added 23 for Liaoning.

Liaoning outscored Guangdong 36-18 in the third quarter, and Hudson collected 31 out of his 37 points in the first three quarters.

The 12,000-seat Liaoning Gymnasium saw a physical first quarter, as both teams only combined for 34 points with two three-pointers made.

Liaoning was 44-39 behind after the first two periods, but broke the ice through tough defense in the third where the hosts outrebounded the visitors 12-4 and forced as many as five turnovers.

"We played very good defense in the second half, protected our basket very well and made a lot of fast-breaks," said Liaoning head coach Guo Shiqiang.

Hudson echoed the words, saying "from the beginning of the game, we played really good defense, and that's the key."

Guangdong cut the deficit to three in the final quarter, only to see Liaoning deliver a 13-5 run to widen the gap to double digits.

Zhong Cheng, a 10-year veteran in his semifinal debut, made a key three-pointer in the final minute, awarding Liaoning a comfortable 101-92 lead and Guangdong simply didn't have enough time to turn things around.

Andrew Nicholson had 18 points for Guangdong. Zhou Peng and Yi Jianlian had 17 and 16 respectively.

"Psychology was very important today," said Guangdong head coach Jonas Kazlauskas.

"Sometimes we were making wrong decisions. It looks that we made 40 percentage of three-point shooting, but anyway we missed a lot open three-point shots."

Captain Zhou missed eight of his 10 three-point attempts. "That won't happen in the next game," Zhou said.

Liaoning needs two more victories to make it to its seventh CBA finals, after it had lost all of its previous six outings.

Liaoning will play three consecutive away games in Guangdong, with Game Three scheduled next Wednesday.

"I told my players to forget the first two games and focus on our next game," said coach Guo.

Guangdong, the eight-time CBA champion, is one of the most successful clubs in the 23-year league history, as it is competing in its 16th straight CBA semifinals.

"We lost Game Two, but we will have three straight games at home," said Zhou.

The winner of the series would face either Guangsha or Shandong in the finals. 

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