Basketball: Leopards' defeat leaves Towers sitting pretty

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The Independent Online
Birmingham Bullets put the first dent into the Leopards defence of the Budweiser League title with an 81-79 victory at London Arena last night, where a single free throw each from Nigel Lloyd and Tony Dorsey sealed victory inside the final seconds.

Bullets' victory left the Leopards' arch-rivals London Towers as clear leaders and unbeaten on three wins after beating the Giants 76-71 in Manchester on Saturday night, in front of 8,114 fans at Nynex Arena.

Leopards' coach Billy Mims knew what to expect with American Dorsey and Barbadian Lloyd returning to Birmingham's line-up this season. "When they come ready to play you know you're in for a tough game."

But most of the early damage was done by new American Reggie Kirk who finished with 23 points ahead of Lloyd on 19 and another new American, H L Coleman, on 18.

Three-pointers from Kirk and Dorsey put Birmingham 77-74 ahead and the Bullets were clinging to an 80-77 lead when Leopards' Eric Burks missed with a three-pointer before rebounding the shot and missing again.

Giants, who will be investigated for possible salary cap violations after signing Ronnie Baker on Friday, slumped to their second home defeat after attracting over 18,000 spectators to their first two games.

Baker was one of four Giants to foul out. London's American Danny Lewis took control of the game with 11 consecutive points inside four minutes to open a 76-65 lead. Lewis finished with 27 points.

- Richard Taylor