The Los Angeles Lightning lost its first game of the season after holding a halftime lead, and picked the worst time to do it.
Former UCLA star Billy Knight scored 17 of his 30 points in the final quarter and Chris Ayer added 24, but the Lightning’s late rally fell short in 148-145 loss to the Kenosha Ballers in the IBA quarterfinals at Gary, Ind., on Friday night.
The Lightning, leading 24-6 in the first five minutes, up 41-26 after one period and clinging to a 68-66 advantage at the half, found itself trailing by 13 points in the fourth quarter with 5:58 to play.
L.A. pulled to within 146-145 on back-to-back 3-pointers by Jan Burris and Knight with 16.5 seconds remaining. Kenosha (8-8) went up by three when Brandon Morris, who had a game-high 36 points, made two free throws.
Burris missed a 3 for the Lighning, but Quiande Moore missed two free throws for Kenosha with 2.6 seconds left. The Lightning failed to get off a 3 to end the game in attempt to tie.
The Lightning finished 12-3 record with a largely new roster. This was the first time L.A. did not have a former NBA player on the team. In 2010, they had five ex-NBA players — Bryon Russell, Toby Bailey, Fred Vinson, Juaquin Hawkins and Tyus Edney.
“I’m real proud of the guys,” said L.A. coach Ron Quarterman. “They played hard all the way to the end and never gave up. This is a good group and I’m looking forward to next year.”
Knight hit 10-20 from the field, including 5-11 from downtown.
“We didn’t play with the same energy that helped us get that 18-point lead in the first quarter,” said Knight. “We got a little complacent. It’s not fun to lose in the first round of the playoffs. We didn’t play hard in the second and third quarters and it cost us.”
Former USC standout Jerry Dupree contributed 24 points and six rebounds while Hassan Stephens had a double-double (15 points, 11 rebounds) for L.A.