CSKA Moscow reestablished its dominance with a 55-74 road win over Efes Pilsen behind a spectacular shooting performance from Final Four MVP Trajan Langdon. The champs led by just 1 at halftime, but ran away in the second half to lead by as many as 21 before easing up in the final minutes. Langdon shot 7 for 10 from downtown to lead CSKA with 27 points – his best output since scoring 32 as a Euroleague rookie in November 2002. CSKA improved to 7-2 and has all but wrapped up first place in Group D. Meanwhile Efes missed a chance to clinch a Top 16 fell to 4-5 on the season, however could still reach the next stage this week if Real Madrid beats Armani Jeans on Thursday. Erazem Lorbek added 12 points for CSKA, while Zoran Planinic dished 5 assists and Viktor Khryapa grabbed 9 rebounds. Bootsy Thornton paced Efes with 19 points in defeat.
Ender Arslan was confident early on, drawing a foul and make free throws and then driving for a layup in Efes’s first two possessions. But Ramunas Siskauskas’s short jumper and a Langdon three-pointer gave CSKA a 4-5 lead. Thornton connected from downtown and then Charles Smith drove the lane to put Efes ahead, however Lorbek knotted the score on the offensive glass. Thornton and Siskauskas traded baskets before Terence Morris drilled a three and Planinic converted a basket-plus-foul in traffic to cap a 0-7 CSKA charge that made it 11-16. Head coach Ergin Ataman called a timeout after which the Efes defense tightened up, but the hosts still had trouble cracking the CSKA defense and would not score a basket in the last three-and-a-half minutes of the period. Langdon banked in a buzzer-beating three from eight meters to give the visitors a 12-19 lead after 10 minutes.
Tough defenses remained on display in the second period, but Efes began finiding way to generate points. First Thornton buried a three, then Cenk Akyol drove for a basket and when Predrag Drobnjak scored on the offensive glass, the hosts cut the gap to 19-21. Smodis answered with a Moscow jumper, but Akyol trimmed the gap to 1 with a three-pointer. CSKA responded quickly with Lorbek scoring twice inside and Langdon adding a basket on the break. Drobnjak drilled a three and Bootsy hit a turn-around jumper to bring the hosts within a basket. And then Bootsy swooped in for a steal and a two-handed slam to tie the game and thrill the fans. Milos Vujanic made a layup to cap a 9-0 run and give Efes a 31-29 lead. The champs stayed cool and tied the score through Smodis before J.R. Holden added a three. Preston Shumpert’s free throws saw Efes get within 33-34 at the halftime break.
Langdon continued his strong night with a triple to open the second half. Arslan went down hard attempting a layup and needed to come out of the game. He did not return. Meanwhile Langdon connected one more from downtown and Smodis got three the hard way as CSKA took its first double-digit lead. Peker battled for a basket with a reverse move and Shumpert added a jumper in the paint as Efes stayed in the game. However Langdon’s fifth three of the evening kept CSKA comfortably ahead. Bootsy buried a big three only to see Holden match him at the other end. Thornton then hit a jumper, but Langdon bettered him with another three. And after Shumpert and Morris both scored, the visitors led 46-56 heading into the fourth quarter.
Langdon hit his seventh three to open the fourth and the CSKA defense kept Efes scoreless for nearly four minutes with an impressive block by Siskauskas on a Smith dunk attempt highlighting the stretch. Planinic stretched the CSKA lead to 14 before Smith scored on the break for Efes. However Efes could not gain the momentum as free throws from Khryapa and baskets by Siskauskas and Lorbek gave CSKA an 18-point lead. A Holden jumper made it 48-68 and Lorbek made it a 0-10 run before Hammonds answered with a three. But by now the final outcome was clear as the champs enjoyed the final minutes of a big win.
Wednesday, January 7, 2009