Lokomotiv dances into playoffs with rout of Crvena Zvezda
There was plenty to celebrate at the Basket Hall on Thursday after Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar routed Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade 86-62 to advance to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Playoffs for the first time in club history. In addition to the victory, which boosted Lokomotiv’s record to 8-4, it also avenged a 14-point loss to Zvezda in Belgrade in January and gave it the potential head-to-head tiebreak advantage in the race for second place in Group E and home-court advantage in the playoffs. Zvezda fell to 7-5, but could still reach the playoffs this week if Unicaja Malaga defeats Anadolu Efes Istanbul on Friday. With the score tied at 28-28 in the second quarter, four different Lokomotiv players nailed three-pointers in a 14-3 run and the visitors never recovered. The lead stood at 10 at halftime and reached 18 in the third quarter. Zvezda had a chance to fight for the tiebreaker in the fourth quarter, but Chris Singleton put the finishing touches on for Lokomotiv as it cruised to victory. Anthony Randolph and Singleton scored 17 points apiece for the winners, while Malcolm Delaney compiled 12 points and 9 assists and Ryan Broekhoff netted 11 points in victory. Marko Guduric paced Zvezda with 13 points and Tarence Kinsey added 10. The visitors were doomed by their 22 turnovers.
First quarter: Randolph’s 9 points help hosts turn around slow start
Nemanja Dangubic drove inside for Zvezda to open the scoring before Randolph got Lokomotiv on the scoreboard with a perimeter shot. Zvezda locked down the paint on defense and got baskets by Kinsey and Stefan Jovic to grab a 2-6 lead. Randolph finished one fast break with a layup and another with a slam to even the score. Victor Claver’s step-back jumper gave the hosts their first lead, 8-6. Quincy Miller hit a second-chance jumper, but Claver scored again and Matt Janning drove into the paint to make it 12-8. Vasilije Micic and Janning trade free throws. Micic buried a three-pointer to make it a 1-point game, but Randolph answered with a triple from the top of the key. Maik Zirbes was pulled after kicking the ball and receiving a technical foul, but his replacement, Vladimir Stimac, scored on his first touch. Free throws by Broekhoff gave Lokomotiv a 19-15 lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Four Lokomotiv players hit threes in 14-3 run
Stimac muscled his way to another score inside and Guduric buried a triple that put the visitors back on top, 19-20. Delaney got his first points from the line for Lokomotiv only to see Guduric step up with a floater. Singleton’s triple put the hosts ahead 24-22. Andrey Zubkov’s put-back doubles the lead, but the red-hot Guduric countered with a tough basket-plus-foul. Claver shined with a fantastic steal and slam, but Marko Simonovic’s three-point play evened things at 28-28. Singleton knocked down a jumper in the lane, but neither team found a way to score for the next two minutes until Randolph returned and connected from downtown. After a timeout, Guduric sank free throws, but Draper drilled a three that put Lokomotiv up 6. Miller stopped Lokomotiv on the break by rejecting Singleton’s shot out of bounds, but Delaney took advantage with a triple for a 39-30 advantage. And after Stimac split free throws, Singleton’s triple gave the hosts a double-digit lead. Zvezda used a timeout, after which Kinsey made free throws, but Delaney bettered him with a layup-plus-foul. Zirbes scored his first points for Zvezda from the line to make it 45-35 at the break.
Third quarter: Difference grows to 18
A fantastic block by Miller on Claver was not enough to spark the visitors. Randolph nailed free throws and Janning made a three to establish a 15-point lead. More than two minutes passed before Kinsey scored Zvezda’s first 2 points of the half with free throws. Miller scored, but Claver matched him with free throws. Janning managed to block Micic’s shot as Lokomotiv remained in charge. Delaney added free throws and Randolph rejected Micic. Janning beat the 24-second clock to make it 56-39 midway through the quarter. Miller threw down a baseline slam, but Lokomotiv answered with as Broekhoff triple as the lead swelled to 18. Guduric placed a great pass to Zirbes inside for a three-point play. Guduric and Randolph traded triples and Broekhoff netted free throws to keep Lokomotiv cruising. Zirbes put back a Guduric miss and Singleton split free throws to end the quarter at 66-49.
Fourth quarter: Singleton provides highlights
With the identity of the victor seemingly clear, the margin and potential tiebreak advantage became the new target. Branko Lazic chipped into the difference with free throws, but Evgeny Voronov’s layup followed by a steal and layup put Lokomotiv in total control at 71-51. Stimac scored inside, but Singleton countered with a jumper. Stimac sank free throws, however Voronov had heated up and drove for another layup before fouling out with five and a half minutes remaining. Kinsey kept Zvezda within striking distance with more free throws, but the margin was back to 20 after a Singleton jumper with four minutes remaining. Kinsey took a rebound coast-to-coast for a jumper after which Singleton’s missed dunk bounced to the other end of the court. But Singleton came back with a steal and two-handed slam and Delaney added a floater to ice the game and the tiebreaker.
Thursday, March 24, 2016