CSKA Moscow put on a record defensive display on Wednesday night to start the Top 16 on the right foot with a 48-66 win over Lietuvos Rytas at Siemens Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania. J.R.Holden scored 17 to lead the Russian champs. Holden drilled a pair of threes during a 14-0 third-quarter run that put the game out of reach. L. Rytas's 48 points is the lowest scored by a home team in Euroleague history. The previous low was 49 set by Partizan Belgrade in February 2005 against Efes Pilsen. L. Rytas's biggest problem was its perimeter shooting as it went 2-for18 from beyond the arc. The win puts CSKA in sole possession of first in Group F – until Tau Ceramica and GHP Bamberg meet on Thursday. Trajan Langdon added 12 for CSKA, while Thomas Van den Spiegel notched 9 in his Moscow debut. Fred House, Robertas Javtokas and Matt Nielsen scored 11 apiece for L. Rytas. Javtokas also had game-highs of 8 rebounds and 3 blocks.
Both teams had a slow start to the game, as no points came in the opening two minutes until Holden hit a stop-and-pop jumper. CSKA excelled on defense, forcing many turnovers while making L. Rytas used long possessions. Meanwhile, David Vanterpool followed free throws with a fast break layup to give the guests a 0-6 lead. L. Rytas went scoreless for five long minutes until Javtokas fired up the crowd with a dunk over Aleksey Savrasenko. Simas Jasaitis immediately followed it with a steal and a layup, igniting a 7-0 run which Haris Mujezinovic capped with a free throws to give the hosts their first lead. Van den Spiegel took over with a two-handed dunk, which Maurice Baker erased with free throws. A put-back basket by Theo Papaloukas and a fast break layup by Van den Spiegel put CSKA in charge, 9-12, at the end of a defensive first quarter.
Nielsen opened the second quarter with a driving basket to which Langdon answered with his first three-pointer for a 11-15 CSKA lead. It didn't last long, as L. Rytas had found a go-to guy in Nielsen, who stepped up with a tough jumper and then followed Jasaitis's free throws with a driving basket to put the hosts back in charge, 17-15, after a 6-0 run. Vanterpool came to the rescue for CSKA with free throws and Savrasenko added a short, left-handed hook, while Matjaz Smodis took over with a basket in the low post to force a L. Rytas timeout at 17-21. The hosts switched to zone defense and House nailed a three from the top of the key, but Smodis copied him in the other end to keep CSKA ahead, 21-25. The visitors continued to play strong man-to-man defense, while Savrasenko shined with a put-back layup and Vanterpool fed Langdon for a three which gave CSKA a 26-31 margin at halftime.
L. Rytas opened the third quarter with a different attitude, as Javtokas made free throws while Jasaitis and Mindaugas Lukauskis grabbed respective offensive rebounds. But it was not enough for the hosts, as Smodis hit a three after a L. Rytas timeout, Vanterpool drew an offensive foul on Jasaitis, while Holden also scored from downtown to give CSKA its biggest margin yet, 28-37. Javtokas rescued L.Rytas with consecutive dunks, as the second one came with an additional free throw for a 33-37 deficit midway through this period. It didn't last long, as Vanterpool slashed for a layup and Van den Spiegel added a basket-plus-foul in a game-breaking 0-14 run in which Holden stroke twice from downtown. Langdon capped it with a put-back layup to force a L.Rytas timeout at 33-51. House fired in a three to bring L. Rytas within 36-52 after 30 minutes.
CSKA tried to seal the win early in the final period, as the guests tried to use long possessions to slow down the tempo and keep a safe lead. Meanwhile, L. Rytas kept its poor shot selection and carried on committing turnovers. Both teams went scoreless for more than two minutes until Mujezinovic stepped up with a put-back layup. Nielsen added a short jumper which gave the hosts some hope at 40-52. Papaloukas came to the rescue with 3 free throws while a big block by Vanterpool allowed Langdon to score in the other end, pushing CSKA's margin to 40-57 with under five minutes to go. The outcome was clear, but CSKA carried on with its defensive exhibition, limiting L.Rytas to just 2 points in the next couple of minutes. Meanwhile, Holden canned a jumper and added another one soon after that to make CSKA send a message which echoed all around Group F, as the guests left the court with a big road win.
Wednesday, February 22, 2006