James leads CSKA past Zalgiris
CSKA Moscow grabbed its fourth consecutive win by topping Zalgiris Kaunas 78-87 in Lithuania on Tuesday. CSKA improved to 6-3 in the standings, while Zalgiris dropped to 5-4 and is now on a three-game losing streak. Mike James led the winners with 27 points. Will Clyburn added 13 while Darrun Hilliard had 12 for CSKA. Marius Grigonis led Zalgiris with 19 points and Thomas Walkup added 10. Zalgiris rallied from a double-digit deficit to get within 78-79 within 1:09 left, but James scored the final 8 points of the game, allowing CSKA to add a good-as-gold road win.
Daniel Hackett got CSKA going with a jumper and Nikola Milutinov added a layup for a 0-4 lead. Marius Grigonis struck from downtown and Steve Vasturia gave Zalgiris its first lead, 5-4. Hilliard buried a couple of three-pointers and added a jumper to boost the margin to 7-14. Grigonis tried to change things for Zalgiris, but Toko Shengelia and James kept CSKA fully in charge, 13-18. Augustine Rubit downed a baseline jumper, but Semen Antonov did better with a triple. Mike James fed Joel Bolomboy for an alley-oop slam and downed a buzzer-beating three-pointer for a 17-26 CSKA lead after 10 minutes. Bolomboy buried a jumper early in the second quarter and Clyburn scored in penetration to boost the lead to 17-30. Martinas Geben scored down low and Walkup buried a triple, but Clyburn and Antonov answered for a 22-37 score. Rubit hit a floater and Rokas Jokubaitis added a layup to give Zalgiris hope at 26-37. Shengelia and Grigonis traded triples before Milutinov hit a jump hook for a 29-42 CSKA lead. Rubit scored again and Nigel Hayes did better with back-to-back triples to bring the hosts within 37-42. Milutinov rescued CSKA with a layup-plus-foul to restore a 38-45 CSKA lead at halftime.
Grigonis buried a three-pointer in transition right after the break and got help from Geben and Walkup to bring Zalgiris within 47-50. James and Nikita Kurbanov stepped up for CSKA, but Arturas Milaknis downed a triple. Ivan Ukhov and James joined the three-point shootout to give the visitors some fresh air at 52-60. Joffrey Lauvergne and Lukas Lekavicius tried to change things for Zalgiris, but James and Bolomboy gave CSKA a 58-66 margin after 30 minutes. Lauvergne followed a floater with a dunk early in the fourth quarter and Milaknis added a layup to make it 64-66 after an 8-0 run. Clyburn and James combined for all the points in a 0-8 run that boosted CSKA's lead to double figures. Grigonis sank his fifth bomb from downtown and Walkup also buried a three-pointer to make it 70-76 with less than 4 minutes left. Clyburn insisted from downtown, but Grigonis and Rokas Jokubaitis kept the hosts within 76-79 in the next-to-last minute. Paulius Jankunas hit free throws, but James buried a step-back three-pointer that sealed the outcome, 78-82, with 43.2 seconds left.
Mike James made the difference for CSKA in this game. He finished the game with 27 points on 3-of-5 two-point shooting, 5-of-6 from downtown and 6-of-6 on free throws. He added 5 assists and 6 fouls drawn for a PIR of 32.
Zalgiris rallied to 64-66 early in the fourth quarter, but CSKA used long possessions and superb ball circulation to pull away. Clyburn beat the shot clock with a three-pointer and then James struck from downtown and added a driving layup at the end of another possession, giving CSKA a 64-74 lead and full control of the game.
It was a very balanced game that could have gone either way, but turnovers may have been the biggest difference. Zalgiris committed 14 while CSKA had just 9 giveaways. CSKA also had a slightly better two-point shooting percentage (55.9%, Zalgiris 50%).
Did you know?
It was the teams' 25th showdown between them in the EuroLeague, since the turn of the millennium. CSKA now has a 22-3 record against Zalgiris. CSKA is 12-0 at home and 10-2 in Kaunas. Zalgiris bested CSKA in the 2018 EuroLeague Third Place Game in Belgrade, Serbia.
Both teams return to action later this week. CSKA visits Germany to face FC Bayern Munich on Thursday, October 19. Zalgiris travels to AX Armani Exchange Milan the next day.
Tuesday, November 17, 2020