CSKA edges Maccabi to snap skid
CSKA Moscow snapped a three-game losing streak by fending off Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv 74-73 in a thrilling back-and-forth showdown of Turkish Airlines EuroLeague powerhouses. The biggest lead for either team was 5 points and CSKA avoided losing its fourth straight game, which would have been the first time the club suffered such a streak during a season in league history. Iffe Lundberg scored 14 points to lead CSKA, which improved to 5-4. Joel Bolomboy added 12 points and 6 rebounds and Marius Grigonis chipped in 10 points in his first game back with the team since Round 1. Maccabi saw its five-game winning streak end to fall to 6-3 despite Derrick Williams pouring in 20 points and Ante Zizic collecting 16 points and 6 rebounds.
Lundberg opened the scoring for the hosts with Williams going for 5 points at the other end. CSKA temporarily went ahead before Maccabi reeled off 6 points in a row to go up 6-11. Bolomboy tried to keep CSKA close with two baskets, but two Zizic scores had Maccabi up 12-17. Grigonis nailed a three-pointer to make it 17-19 after 10 minutes.
Grigonis hit a jumper to start the second quarter and even the game and Kenneth Faried free throws had the hosts back in front, 23-21. A Roman Sorkin three-point play gave Maccabi the lead again only to see CSKA get some defensive stops and execute on offense with an Alexey Shved three-pointer finishing off a 7-0 surge to open a 32-28 advantage. Zizic continued his strong game with a three-point play and Williams’s score pushed Maccabi back in front 33-35. The game went back and forth the rest of the first half and CSKA led 39-38 at the break.
After Lundberg started the second half, Scottie Wilbekin danced around the CSKA defense for a 41-42 lead. That was the first of seven straight lead changes with Williams scoring 4 in a row and James Nunnally’s free throws making it 47-52 - matching the biggest lead of the game thus far. After Angelo Caloiaro drained a triple for Maccabi, CSKA used free throws to stay close and Bolomboy’s triple had the hosts down just 58-59 after 30 minutes.
Williams’s big alley-oop made it 58-61 to open the final frame, but Grigonis and Will Clyburn both scored from deep and CSKA was ahead 64-61. Neither team scored for almost 3 minutes until a Keenan Evans transition dunk got Maccabi within 64-63 midway through the fourth. After a timeout, Lundberg connected on a pair of three-pointers to give CSKA its biggest cushion at 70-65 with under 4 minutes to play. Maccabi three times countered CSKA to get it back to a 2-point game - twice from Wilbekin on free throws and a layup to make it 74-72 with 80 seconds remaining. Zizic came up with a big block of Lundberg, but Williams only split free throws with 17 seconds left to make it 74-73. With Maccabi needing to get a steal, video replay showed an in-bounds pas went off Grigonis to give the guests the ball with 15 seconds remaining. On the final play, Wilbekin dribbled into traffic and fed the ball to Williams who was met in the paint and attempted the game-winner, but missed. Lundberg grabbed the rebound and the hosts ran out the clock.
Pivotal performer: Lundberg steps up when needed most
Iffe Lundberg led the way for CSKA as he scored a team-high 14 points. The Danish guard made 6 of 11 shots - including 2 of 2 from long range. The 11 attempts were the most since he took 12 shots in Round 2, when he scored 17 points. Lundberg also grabbed 4 rebounds and dished out 2 assists. Besides his 2 three-pointers early in the fourth quarter, he also hit a big shot with just more than a minute to play to make it 74-70, which ended up being the winning score.
Williams not enough for Maccabi
Derrick Williams continued his outstanding season for Maccabi. He poured in 20 points, making 6 of 8 two-pointers, but shooting just 1-of-5 from long range and also making 5 of 6 free throws. The big man snagged 3 rebounds and 2 steals as well for an index rating of 17. Williams had the chance to win the game in the final seconds but he could not connect in the paint and Maccabi was forced to leave Moscow with a loss.
Telling numbers: CSKA does it with defense
CSKA did a great job containing Maccabi from the outside as the visitors made just 2-of-13 three-pointers (15.4%). But the biggest number for CSKA head coach Dimitris Itoudis was 73 as in the number of points Maccabi scored. That was 9.9 points fewer than the 82.9 points per game CSKA had been allowing going into the game - the worst defense in the league. CSKA also improved to 12-2 against Maccabi in their last 14 matchups.
Thursday, November 11, 2021