Short-handed Reds blast CSKA
Olympiacos Piraeus had only nine healthy players on Thursday, but got maximum effort from all of them in rocking CSKA Moscow 72-59 at Peace and Friendship Stadium. Kostas Papanikolaou inspired his teammates with 19 points, 7 rebounds, 5 steals and 3 blocks as Olympiacos improved its record to 10-14 to close within one victory of the playoff zone. Augustine Rubit added 13 points, Nikola Milutinov amassed 11 points and 12 rebounds and Brandon Paul also scored 11 for the victors. Mike James scored 20 and Darrun Hilliard 11 for CSKA, which fell to 16-8.
Olympiacos dug its heels in on defense in holding CSKA to a single basket in the first 3 minutes as Milutinov dominated inside for a 6-2 start. The hosts knocked down a pair of threes to remain in control, but Mike James stepped up as both a scorer and a passer to keep CSKA close. Wade Baldwin IV scored in transition to put the Reds in front 18-10. A CSKA timeout did little to change the momentum; Papanikolaou extended the Reds' lead to double figures. A three by Hilliard and layup by Janis Strenieks drew CSKA within 20-15 after 10 minutes. Hilliard added the first bucket of the second quarter before Rubit revived the hosts with a mid-range jumper. Hilliard converted a three-point play and Ron Baker found Kosta Koufos for a slam and CSKA's first lead, 26-27. The visitors held on to a narrow advantage, 33-34, at the break.
The hosts scored the first 4 points of the second half and regained the lead on a triple by Rubit. Paul’s pull-up triple-and-foul extended fantastic start to the third quarter for the Reds. Milutinov flexed after a put-back and Papanikolaou added free throws to complete a 16-2 run for a 49-36 lead. Janie Strelnieks split free throws for CSKA, but Olympiacos showed its dominance with a four-chance possession. Paul nailed a three to end the third quarter at 54-38. The margin was 18 after a Papanikolaou slam to start the fourth quarter. Baldwin gave Olympiacos a 20-point lead, 62-42, with a drive 4 minutes into the fourth quarter. CSKA reeled off 11 straight points – 6 from the hands of James – to rally within 65-56. However, a three by Antonios Koniaris had the Piraeus faithful dancing again. A fadeaway jumper by Rubit put the finishing touches on the game as Olympiacos pocketed a memorable victory.
Kostas Papanikolaou turned in a brilliant all-around effort to lead Olympiacos. He recorded 19 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, 5 steals and 3 blocks in compiling a performance index rating of 27. His excellent defense and great hustle plays made all the difference.
The hustle stats
It was actually a poor shooting game for the Reds, who made just 37.2 percent of their two-point shots and 28.0% of threes. However, Olympiacos outrebounded CSKA 45-36, including a season-high 19 offensive rebounds. The hosts had 14 steals in forcing CSKA into 20 turnovers and also blocked 6 shots.
The three CSKA players who played for Olympiacos in the past did not enjoy their trips to Piraeus. Kyle Hines was plagued by foul trouble and limited to 3 points and 4 rebounds in 16:29 on the floor. Daniel Hackett was held scoreless and had just 1 assist and a PIR of minus-8 in 14:30. And Janis Strelnieks contributed 3 points – less than half his season average - in 10:24.
After a one-week break from EuroLeague action, Olympiacos will be back on the hardwood when it hosts LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne on Thursday, February 20. CSKA will be on the road the next night to play Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade.
Thursday, February 6, 2020