CSKA became the first team to seal a ticket to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 by downing Zalgiris 95-82 in Moscow, Russia in Group B on Wednesday. CSKA stayed undefeated and improved to 6-0 to keep first place. Zalgiris dropped to 1-5 and needs to start winning right away in order to keep its Top 16 options alive. Nenad Krstic paced the winners with 21 points. Alexey Shved added 16, Andrey Vorontsevich and Milos Teodosic each had 14 while Nikita Kurbanov got 10 for CSKA. Sonny Weems led Zalgiris with 22 points. Marko Popovic and Tomas Delininkaitis each added 12 while Milovan Rakovic had 10 for the guests. Krstic helped CSKA to get an early 12-8 lead but Weems and Rakovic made Zalgiris regain the lead, 24-25, after 10 minutes. Shved and Vorontsevich led a 9-0 CSKA run that allowed CSKA to get a 32-27 edge. A fast break dunk by Shved made it a nine-point game, 38-29. Weems singlehandedly brought Zalgiris back to life and a layup by Delininkaitis tied it at 45-45. An 11-0 run made CSKA get the lead for good, 56-45, right after the break. Weems and Delininkaitis got Zalgiris within 66-62 but Shved allowed CSKA to stay out of trouble, 73-66, after 30 minutes. Nothing changed from that moment, as CSKA kept a safe lead all the way until the final buzzer.
Paulius Jankunas got Zalgiris going with an easy basket that Viktor Khryapa matched with a scoop shot. Teodosic fed Khryapa for a wide open triple but Jankunas nailed a running hook and Robertas Javtokas hit his trademark hook shot for a 6-6 tie. Javtokas scored again in the low post but free throws by an unstoppable Khryapa and back-to-back layups by Krstic restored a 12-8 CSKA lead. Weems provided a highlight with an acrobatic power layup that Teodosic quickly matched with an easy basket in transition. Weems kept pacing Zalgiris with a one-handed floater but Krstic shined with a put-back jump hook. Tadas Klimavicius and Krstic traded layups but an off-balanced by Weems brought the guests within 18-16. Jamont Gordon took over with a fast break dunk but Rakovic hit foul shots and Popovic added a layup-plus-foul for a 20-21 Zalgiris edge. Vorontsevich hit free throws but Rakovic and Kalnietis scored in transition. A buzzer-beating jumper by Teodosic fixed the score at 24-25 after 10 minutes.
Rakovic scored around the basket early in the second quarter but Kurbanov answered from downtown to tie the game, 27-27. Shved took over with a wild driving basket and Vorontsevich joined the three-point shootout to force Zalgiris to call timeout at 32-27. A free throw by Vorontsevich capped a 9-0 run, as Javtokas tried to change things with a reverse layup. CSKA kept finding easy baskets in transition through an outstanding Shved, who followed a three-pointer with a fast break dunk that made Zalgiris stop the game again, 38-29. Weems scored in penetration and matched Ramunas Siskauskas' two-chance layup with an incredible windmill dunk. Tomas Delininkaitis sank a jumper and even when Siskauskas answered from downtown, a three-point play by Weems kept Zalgiris as close as 43-38. Delininkaitis scored again and an unstoppable Weems bettered Krstic's jump hook with a corner triple to force CSKA to call timeout at 45-43. Delininkaitis tied the game with a fast break layup but 4-of-4 free throws by Krstic gave CSKA some fresh air, 49-45. Vorontsevich scored in transition to boost the hosts' lead to 51-45 at halftime.
Krstic took over with a three-point play immediately after the break and Shved buried a running jumper to make it a double-digit game, 56-45, after an 11-0 run that bridged between both halves. Jankunas made free throws off a timeout and a driving layup by Ty Lawson gave Zalgiris hope at 56-49. Jankunas capped a 0-7 run with a bomb from downtown, as Teodosic rescued CSKA with a close jumper. Weems sank a mid-range shot but Zalgiris had entered the foul bonus. Teodosic and Vorontsevich hit free throws to keep CSKA way ahead, 61-54. Delininkaitis sank 3-of-3 foul shots but a three-point play by Kurbanov restored a 64-57 CSKA edge. Rakovic answered with an off-balance shot and Delininkaitis struck from downtown to keep Zalgiris as close as 66-62. CSKA had started to miss free throws and Weems stayed on fire with a five-meter jumper. The hosts found a go-to guy in Shved, who buried a three-pointer and added free throws to keep CSKA out of trouble, 73-64. A fast break layup by Popovic brought Zalgiris within 73-66 after 30 minutes.
Siskauskas buired a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter but Rakovic immediately answered with a layup for a 76-68 Zalgiris deficit. Teodosic nailed a catch-and-shoot jumper and the hosts improved its defense, forcing Zalgiris to collect turnovers. A free throw by Evgeny Voronov soon made it an 11-point game, 79-68, with 7 minutes to go. Zalgiris tried to use shorter possessions but its poor shot selection did not allow the guests to ignite a comeback. A put-back basket by Teodosic made CSKA seal the outcome, 81-68, with under 6 minutes to go. Popovic shined with a wild driving layup and Kalnietis added a three-point play but Vorontsevich kept CSKA way ahead, 85-73. Weems hit free throws but a close basket by Krstic and a jumper by Teodosic allowed all CSKA fans to celebrate the win, 89-75. CSKA had already sealed its ticket to the Top 16 while Zalgiris needs to bounce back in front of its fans in Kaunas, where it will play 3 of its final 4 regular season showdowns.
Wednesday, November 23, 2011