Crvena Zvezda took sole possesion of first place in Group D with an 87-84 win over Unics Kazan on Tuesday night in Belgrade, Serbia. Star scorer Milan Gurovic poured in 28 points, including 20 in the first half, as Crvena Zvezda became one of only five teams in the competition to open up 2-0. Kazan falls to 1-1, joining Real Madrid, EiffelTowers Den Bosch and Dexia Mons in a four-way tie for second. Gurovic drilled 4 three-pointers, made 14-of-15 free throws - including 2 for insurance in the final minute - and grabbed 9 boards. Pero Antic also came up big for the winners, with 21 points and 10 rebounds, while Tadija Dragicevic added 11. Kristof Lavrinovic led Kazan with 24 points, twin brother Darjus Lavrinovic had 13 points and 3 blocks, Dusko Savanovic 12 points and Saulius Stombergas 11. Crvena Zvezda used a 10-0 first-quarter run to go ahead and built on that for a 52-34 lead at halftime. The lead grew to 19 in the third before Kazan cut the gap to 10 after 30 minutes. The visitors continued to chip away at the lead and twice got within a single point, but each time Crvena Zvezda had the answer to hold on for the narrow win.
Playing without starting guard Billy Thomas, out with injured ribs, Crvena Zvezda bolted to a 5-2 lead with a three-pointer from Gurovic. The teams traded baskets until Darjus Lavrinovic of Unics took over. With his 3 blocks and 8 points, the guests took the lead at 11-12. But in the next 2 minutes, it was a one-man show by Gurovic. First, he scored 2 from the line, then added 2 triples as Crvena Zvezda led 19-12. Antonio Burks concluded a 10-0 run for the hosts and Vuk Radivojevic scored a bomb with a buzzer as Crvena Zvezda led 25-16 after 10 minutes with Gurovic already up to 12 points. Stombergas and Burks traded baskets to begin the second period, while Petar Popovic of Crvena Zvezda committed his third foul. He scored once while his replacement was waiting to enter, but the problem got worse for Crvena Zvezda as forward Tadija Dragicevic also was whistled for his third. Both teams were playing hard defense and both spent a lot of fouls. Ksistof Lavrinovic made one more as Antic scored a three-point play and a jumper to force a Unics timeout at 36-27. Igor Milosevic scored next for the hosts, supplying the first double-digit leadk 38-27. Gurovic made the gap wider with 3 points to conclude a 10-0 run. Finaly, Stormbergas scored for Unics, but Gurovic answered with anothe bomb and a steal in defense. A technical foul let Nikola Vucurovic hit 3 from the line as Unics continued to slide. Chikalkin hit the first triple for the guests but Crvena Zvezda to the half ahead by 52-34 as Gurovic was up to 20 points.
Stombergas hit from behind the arc as Unics cut the margin to 55-42 early in the third quarter. Darius Lavrinovic booked his fifth block, but Antic dunked from the second chance and Dragicevic unloaded 2 triples as Crvena Zvezda roared in front by 65-46. A few moments later Darjus Lavrinovic went off the floor with sprained ankle but the game was not over. Over the next 3 minutes, Unics made 2-11 run and the score was suddenly 67-59. With free throws, Gurovic and Antic restored a double-digit advantage for Crvena Zvezda, 72-62 after 30 minutes. Dragicevic opened final 10 minutes with his third triple. In those minutes Gurovic committed 2 fouls but after another Antic slam dunk, Crvena Zvezda led 77-64. Ksistof Lavrinovic answered with his own 4 points before Gurovic forced Stormbergas to commit his fifth personal. Unics switched to a zone as Ksistof Lavrinovic hit his first triple, cutting the difference to 79-73 with 5 minutes left. Unics saw its chance then as Crvena Zvezda looked tired. Ksistof Lavrinovic hit free throws after Popovic's fourth foul to complete a 0-7 Unics run. Popovic scored at the other end, but Dusko Savanovic put back and offensive rebound and Jarod Stevenson hit from the arc to make it whole new game, 81-80 with 3 minutes to go. Antic responded with free throws and a layup for the hosts, while Chikalkin scored twice from the line to start the last minute and then punished a Burks turnover with a basket that made it 85-84. Gurovic lost the ball next for Crvena Zvezda, and when Petr Samoylenko missed the fastbreak opportunity, found himself on the foul line. Gurovic made both free throws and Unics call timeout with 15 seconds left, but a game-tying attempt from downtown by Stevenson missed and Crvena Zvezda had the victory and sole possession of first place in Group D.
Tuesday, November 7, 2006