CSKA Moscow survives staunch Crvena Zvezda challenge to take 2-0 series lead
CSKA Moscow pulled out a hard-fought and thrilling 77-76 win over visiting Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade in the Russian capital on Thursday to take a 2-0 series lead and close within one win from qualifying for its 13th Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four in 14 years. The win also extended the club’s playoff home winning streak to 16 games. The series now moves to Belgrade’s Kombank Arena for Game 3 on Monday – and, if necessary, Game 4 on Wednesday. With Stefan Jovic orchestrating the offense, and Marko Simonovic hitting three triples in the second quarter, Zvezda led by as many as a 7 points and went up 44-48 at the break. Kyle Hines and Aaron Jackson fueled CSKA’s rally that helped the hosts surge ahead by 69-62 lead midway through the fourth quarter, but the visitors answered with a 1-8 run that tied the game. Zvezda took another lead in the penultimate minute, but a Milos Teodosic triple with 65 seconds to go proved to be the game-winner. Hines had 19 points in victory, while Cory Higgins and Nando De Colo scored 13 points apiece for CSKA. Jovic finished with 15 points and all of his 7 assists came in the first half. Tarence Kinsey and Marko Simonovic netted 14 apiece, and Quincy Miller added 11 in defeat.
First quarter: Kinsey gets Zvezda off to good start
Kinsey opened the scoring with a fastbreak layup, but Ivan Lazarev countered with a dunk. Miller's jumper made it 2-4, and after De Colo drove baseline for a layup, Kinsey had a pair of layups, including one on a fast break after a big blocked shot by Miller. A Maik Zirbes layup opened a 4-11 lead after four minutes of play. De Colo scored a pair from the foul line, but Jovic fed Miller on the fast break. Zvezda held the hosts without a field goal for almost seven minutes, but Higgins and De Colo made 6 free throws that cut it to 12-13. Branko Lazic hit a long jumper for the visitors, before Demetris Nichols ended CSKA’s field goal drought from close range. Kinsey hit a jumper, but Nichols bettered it with a triple to tie the game at 17-17. Hines’s put-back dunk-plus-foul gave CSKA its first lead, 20-18, before Kinsey banked in a runner to make it 20-20 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Zvezda leads at halftime behind Simonovic triples
After Miller made free throws on the quarter’s opening possession, Hines scored a second-chance basket inside for CSKA. Lazic buried a baseline jumper, but Higgins’s driving layup made it 24-24. Hines found an opening for a layup that briefly put CSKA back ahead, but Zirbes countered with a basket-plus-foul. After a layup from Hines, back-to-back threes from Jovic and Lazic gave Zvezda a 28-33 advantage. After a CSKA timeout, Teodosic hit a three, but Simonovic nailed a long jumper. Nikita Kurbanov hit a wide-open three, but Simonovic hit a tough triple from left corner for the visitors. After a mid-range jumper from De Colo, Simonovic knocked down a catch-and-shoot triple from the same spot. Zvezda forced 11 turnovers in the first half, and one by De Colo led to a Jovic fast break layup for a 36-43 lead. Teodosic countered with his second triple, but Luka Mitrovic drove for a dunk over Hines. Vorontsevich and Simonovic traded threes, before Fridzon’s foul shots made it 44-48 at halftime.
Third quarter: CSKA rallies and takes lead
Higgins made a runner, but Kinsey fed for Zirbes for a dunk and then knocked down a mid-range jumper to make it 46-52. However, Higgins hit a triple and Jackson drove for a layup before a put-back from Hines gave CSKA a 53-52 lead. Miller’s three-point play put Zvezda briefly back in the lead, but Jackson nailed a three-pointer and a put-back from Hines made it 58-55. Jovic buried a jumper, but Vorontsevich drained a triple and Higgins dished to Hines for a layup and 63-57 edge. Vladimir Stimac had a three-point play in the final minute that cut the difference to 63-60.
Fourth quarter: CSKA pulls it out down the wire
Higgins made a pair of free throws, but those were the only points in the first three minutes of the final quarter. Zvezda ended its drought with a driving layup from Miller to cut it to 65-62. After a CSKA timeout, Jackson fed Hines for a dunk, and De Colo made foul shots that opened a 69-62 margin with five minutes left in the game. However, Jovic made free throws and a triple before a pair of Simonovic foul shots tied it at 70-70. De Colo and Hines each made a couple free throws for CSKA, but Kinsey fed Zirbes for a dunk and Jovic hit a triple with 73 seconds left to give Zvezda a 74-75 lead. After a timeout, Hines fed Teodosic for a triple and a 2-point lead for the hosts. CSKA made a defensive stand, but Kinsey stole the ball from Teodosic and drew a foul with 22.2. seconds left. Kinsey only split free throws, but after a timeout, Simonovic played excellent defense on De Colo in forcing a turnover and giving the visitors the ball with 19.9 seconds. Jovic took the ball in his hands, but lost his footing and travelled with 2.9 seconds to go. Vorontsevich missed free throws on the other end, but all Kinsey could do in the remaining time was throw a half-court shot that was off the mark as CSKA prevailed.
Thursday, April 14, 2016