Rodriguez sparkles, CSKA outlasts Baskonia in thriller
CSKA Moscow showed all its resilience to overturn a big early deficit and take an 81-90 road win in a superb game at Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz, securing first place alone again. CSKA finished the first half of the season 12-3, while Baskonia dropped to 7-8. The home team launched an early 16-0 run to go ahead 18-5, but CSKA wasted little time in responding and stiffened its defense in the second half to move a game clear at the top of the standings. Sergio Rodriguez was the inspiration, scoring a career-high 25 points on 6-of-9 three-pointers and also registering 8 assists and 6 rebounds for a performance index rating of 35, another personal best. He received plenty of support from Will Clyburn’s 20 points and 6 rebounds, while Nando De Colo scored 11 points and Othello Hunter added 10. Toko Shengelia was outstanding for Baskonia, recording a huge double-double of 20 points and 13 rebounds. Janis Timma netted 5 three-pointers in his total of 17, Roddy Beaubois scored 13 and Vincent Poirier combined 9 points, 7 rebounds and 3 blocked shots.
Shengelia scored the first basket but Kyle Hines responded with a three-point play and Nikita Kurbanov unloaded a big slam. Then Baskonia took off, sparked by a Timma triple and a pair of Shengelia fastbreaks. Timma and Beaubois netted from close-range and Shengelia sank a triple to make it 18-5 with a 16-0 run. Rodriguez stopped the rot with a triple and a runner, and a lay-up from Clyburn reduced the deficit to single digits. Free throws brought CSKA closer but Johannes Voigtmann scored a long two and a put-back, making it 26-18 after ten minutes. Rodriguez opened the second quarter scoring before Andrey Vorontsevich hit a triple, and after Rodriguez nailed a triple CSKA went ahead with Clyburn’s fastbreak lay-up. Two dunks from Hunter were answered by two triples from Timma. A put-back slam from Poirier was followed by another triple from Rodriguez, tying it at 41-41. Poirier threw down a slam but so did Hines, before a driving lay-up from Beaubois and a triple from Jayson Granger sent Baskonia ahead. But De Colo responded with a triple and then scored a buzzer-beating lay-up, giving CSKA a 48-51 half-time lead.
Matt Janning, Timma and Vorontsevich all scored triples early in the second half, and Hunter added a lay-up plus one before Rodriguez continue to pull the strings by brilliantly finding Clyburn for a corner three. Shengelia kept Baskonia close with a pair of tip-ins, making it 60-62 midway through the third, and Poirier levelled the game by blocking Hunter’s dunk at one end before connecting with Marcelinho Huertas for an alley-oop at the other. Rodriguez came straight back with a triple and De Colo scored a jumper, but a long three from Marcelinho and a steal and slam from Beaubois saw the third quarter finish perfectly poised at 72-70. De Colo stepped back for a jumper to tie the score early in the fourth, and then sent CSKA ahead by weaving to the basket for a lay-up. Clyburn’s triple made it 72-77 but Timma came back with a tough three and a period of defensive dominance ensued, with neither team scoring for more than two minutes before Rodriguez hit his fifth triple for a 5-point lead. Baskonia just couldn’t score and Cory Higgins stopped and popped to make it 75-82 with 2:40 remaining. Poirier split free throws and Beaubois scored a lay-up to make it closer, but Hines grabbed two consecutive offensive rebounds to tee up another triple for Rodriguez, which was soon followed by another downtown conversion for Higgins to finally break the game.
Friday, December 29, 2017