Crvena Zvezda outlasts Khimki 96-91 in a thriller!
Maik Zirbes and Quincy Miller scored Euroleague career bests of 27 and 25 points, respectively, as Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade edged Khimki Moscow Region 96-91 in front of its passionate fans in the legendary Hala Pionir on Friday night. After an exciting showdown, both teams now hold 4-4 records and share a three-way tie with FC Bayern Munich for second place in Group A. In a tight race for places in the Top 16, however, Khimki retained an important tie-break advantage as it beat Zvezda 91-53 in Round 3. With both teams rolling on offense, neither gained much of a margin for long in the game. Zvezda was ahead 21-10 in the first quarter, but by early in the second, Khimki had taken the lead. The visitors went up 52-60 soon after halftime, but Zirbes helped rally the hosts as they took 66-65 lead later in the third quarter. The teams continued to trade leads and remained within 6 points of each other as the game went down to the wire, but Miller came up with spectacular plays in the final minute, lifting Zvezda to victory. Zirbes also had 7 rebounds and 3 steals, while Miller came up with 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. Marcus Williams, in his season debut, netted 13 points while Stefan Jovic had 13 more and 6 assists for the winners. Alexey Shved scored career-high 28 points for Khimki, including 4-for-6 shooting from long range, and dished 6 assists. Petteri Koponen scored 16 points, Zoran Dragic collected 14 points and 8 rebounds. Sergey Monia finished with 12, and James Augustine added 10 in losing effort.
First quarter: Offenses click from the get-go
Zirbes got things started from close range, and after Augustine opened Khimki’s account with a big dunk, Zirbes countered with a three-point play at 5-2. Shved and Marko Simonovic traded three-pointers, before Jovic made a steal and finished a fastbreak to make it 10-6. After a timeout, Monia knocked down a corner triple, while Jovic buried a long jumper, then fed Zirbes for another layup and a 14-9 advantage. Miller extended the run, knocking down a baseline jumper, and then a triple from Marcus Williams opened 21-10 margin after 6 minutes of play. Augustine scored a layup, but Williams dished a no-look pass for a Simonovic layup. Augustine scored an easy two, but Miller made a runner, 25-15. Khimki continued its offense rolling, with Zoran Dragic burying a triple, then a Marko Todorovic block led to a fastbreak layup from Shved, 25-22. Khimki got closer as Shved fed Monia for a dunk, and Koponen hit a baseline jumper to make it 27-26 after a high scoring first quarter.
Second quarter: Teams stay close, keep it up offensively
Dragic opened second quarter with a layup-plus-free throw. Jovic answered with a driving layup, but Todorovic had a put-back, then another block that led to a Shved fastbreak dunk. Koponen’s step-back jumper made it 29-35 before Zirbes ended a Zvezda drought with a put-back-plus foul. Todorovic and Augustine scored inside for the visitors, while Marko Guduric drove for a layup for Zvezda. But Miller made a shot that started his run of 8 points that included a three-point play, then a triple that put Zvezda ahead 42-39 with 3 minutes to go in the half. Zirbes scored inside to extended the margin to 5 points, but Monia nailed a triple, and after Williams and Shved traded jumpers, Rice buried a corner triple to put Khimki back in front 46-47. Koponen and Williams traded three-pointers in the final minute, before Shved knocked down a long two-pointer to make it 50-53 at halftime.
Third quarter: Khimki briefly pulls away, Zirbes rallies the hosts right back
Lazic got things going after halftime with a fastbreak layup for Zvezda, but Khimki went on a run as Shved’s triple got a favorable bounce, before back-to-back baskets from Dragic opened 52-60 margin. Zirbes scored inside, but Monia nailed a three-pointer. Jovic scored a put-back for the hosts, but Khimki kept the margin as Shved bounce-passed it to Augustine, and a layup made it 58-65. However, Zirbes had another three-point play, added a pair of foul shots to the tally, before Jovic nailed a wide-open three, 66-65. Rice buried a step-back jumper to snap an 8-0 run, and allow Khimki to take 68-69 lead into the final quarter.
Fourth quarter: Miller and Zirbes come up with clutch plays
Miller hit from close range and from long range, before a put-back from Vladimir Stimac put Zvezda up 75-69. Khimki was without a single basket for 3 minutes before Shved made 2 free throws. Williams scored a second-chance layup, but Shved drove for one of his own, Koponen followed with a triple, then Shved had another driving layup, helping Khimki get within 77-80. Miller got a lucky roll with a put-back, snapping a 2-11 run, and Guduric buried a corner triple to put Zvezda in front again. Jovic drove to the basket, and Zirbes fought hard for a put-back, as Hala Pionir went wild, 88-82 with 1:44 left. After a timeout, Shved drew a foul shooting behind 6.75 line, and made 2 of 3 free throws. Koponen made a steal after the ensuing inbound pass and scored to get Khimki to 88-86. But there was no stopping Miller, who made a monster put-back dunk on the other end. Shved bettered it with a triple, but Zirbes beat the shot-clock with a dunk, 92-89 with 29 seconds left on the clock. Miller blocked a dunk attempt by Todorovic, then ended up making a dunk on the ensuing possession, sealing the victory.
Friday, December 4, 2015