Clyburn, James power CSKA past Maccabi
CSKA Moscow outlasted Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv 76-72 in a tough contest on Thursday night at Megasport Arena in the Russian capital. Mike James scored 25 points and Will Clyburn added 19 to lead the 2019 champs. The two combined for 25 of their team's 31 fourth-quarter points to carry CSKA to victory. Toko Shengelia was also instrumental with 8 points and 12 rebounds. Scottie Wilbekin led Maccabi with 20 points and 5 assists, Tyler Dorsey added 16 points and Ante Zizic tallied 13 points and 9 rebounds.
An aggressive Shengelia drew a pair of fouls from Othello Hunter in the game's first 90 seconds, which caused the visitors to go to the bench early. The CSKA big man's second basket gave his team their first lead, 6-5. An issue at the scorers' table paused the game for several minutes, after which Daniel Hackett and Nikita Kurbanov completed an 8-0 run. A pair of threes by Dorsey ended the visitors' drought, however, Darrun Hilliard responded for CSKA. Chris Jones's jumper made it 20-15 after 10 minutes. Dragan Bender helped Maccabi trim the deficit with a put-back and a free throw, but Clyburn came alive with a jumper, a steal and a slam to make it 28-20. Wilbekin came up with a pair of steals that led to layups for his teammates. A three-point play by Dorsey drew Maccabi within 31-30 at the break.
Zizic opened the second half with a pair of free throws that gave the visitors their first lead since the first quarter, but a triple by Joel Bolomboy put CSKA back on top. Maccabi twice tied and both times James answered. A dunk by Bender kept it close, 45-44, through three quarters. Zizic scored three times early in the fourth quarter to push Maccabi ahead 48-50. A CSKA timeout got the hosts back on track as Clyburn drained a three, but Wilbekin found his touch with a pair of triples to make it 53-58. James connected from downtown to keep CSKA in touch. Back-to-back threes by James and Nikita Kurbanov put CSKA in front 64-62 and prompted a Maccabi timeout with less than 3 minutes to play. With the game in the balance, CSKA stopped Maccabi on four consecutive possessions before Wilbekin sank free throws. Clyburn sank a clutch three over his former teammate hunter to make it 72-66 with 38 seconds remaining. Maccabi pressed on, but 4 free throws by Clyburn settled the outcome.
Will Clyburn showed during the second quarter that his explosiveness is back after the knee injury that cost him most of the 2019-20 season. He did that when he poked free a steal and raced downcourt for a thunderous slam and foul. But it was late in the game where the clutch skills that made him the 2019 Final Four MVP came to the fore. Clyburn knocked down a clutch three-pointer with 38 seconds remaining and added 4 free throws late to secure the victory. He scored 14 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter, in which he also blocked a pair of three-point shots.
In a game where so many team statistical categories were close, the differences in three-point shooting stood out greatly. CSKA made 10 of 26 three-point tries for a 38.5% conversion rate. Maccabi struggled mightily, making 7 of 31 for 22.6%. Two players accounted for much of that with Scottie Wilbekin shooting 4 for 15 and Tyler Dorsey 3 for 10. Elijah Bryant and Dragan Bender were each 0 for 3.
A milestone for Hunter
An offensive rebound for Maccabi center Othello Hunter early in the second quarter made him the 17th player in competition history to reach 1,000 career rebounds. It also gave him sole possession of seventh place on the all-time offensive rebounding charts with 419. He surpassed Kerem Gonlum for that mark.
Both teams will be back in action already on Wednesday, October 14, for the start of the first two-round week of the season. Maccabi will host FC Bayern Munich and CSKA will visit Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul.
Thursday, October 8, 2020