CSKA Moscow took another step forwards in its Top 16 drive by beating Krka 62-89 on the road in Novo Mesto, Slovenia, on Wednesday night. CSKA improves to an 8-2 record and will at least share the top spot in Group B for another week, while Krka falls to 1-9, all but mathematically eliminated from the next round. Krka just made 12 of 44 two-pointers while being outrebounded by 29-48. Marcus Brown led the winners with 22 points on 5 of 7 two-pointers and 2 of 4 three-pointers. J.R.Holden added 21 points, Victor Alexander 14 and 8 rebounds while Mirsad Turkcan managed to post a double-double, 10 points and 10 rebounds, in just 16 minutes. Rick Rickert led Krka with 13 points and 11 rebounds, but just made 4 of 16 two-point shots. Mario Dundovic added 13 and Marko Antonijevic 11 for the hosts.
The hosts had a slow start, missing their first 8 shots while CSKA's Sergei Monya was all over the floor, collecting 4 rebounds as well as a huge block on Rick Rickert. Monya made 2 foul shots while Brown added 5 more points to give CSKA a 0-7 lead after 5 minutes. The guests extended their lead to 3-13 with a basket by Victor Alexander and 2 more from the line by Brown. Only then, Krka started to come back, as a basket by Antonijevic ignited a 10-2 run in which Rickert had 6 points, including a catch-and-shoot three-pointer at the buzzer which made Krka trail by two, 13-15, at the end of the first quarter.
Dundovic went on fire early in the second for Krka, scoring 8 points in 2 minutes to give Krka its first lead of the game at 21-17. CSKA was missing most of its shots, while Krka made clear that this game was going to be different than the first leg, when it suffered a record loss in Moscow. Consecutive three-point plays by Dragan Tarlac, Mirsad Turkcan and Brown gave CSKA back a two-point lead, 24-26. Both teams exchanged baskets but at 30-30, Turkcan stepped up. He scored 3 free throws and added a put-back dunk to give CSKA a 30-35 lead. Antonijevic, with 4 free throws, kept Krka in the game, but Holden, who had missed its previous 4 attempts from downtown, made 2 in the final minute of the half, the last coming right on the buzzer, to extend CSKA' lead to 36-43 at halftime. It was a long first half, with many fouls and interruptions, as both teams combined for 28 of 31 free throws. CSKA led, however, because it had outrebounded Krka by 27-9 to that point.
Krka lost its chances shortly after the half, committing 3 early turnovers while missing easy shots. CSKA broke the game with a 4-14 run, highlighted by a three-pointer from Holden, which he followed with a three-point play off a midcourt steal. Brown added 6 points of his own, extending the guests' lead to 40-57 midway through the quarter. Krka had already switched to zone defense and they managed to slow CSKA some, but the hosts could not find the way to the basket themselves. CSKA's organzined defense and aggressiveness managed to limit the hosts to just 6 points in 9 minutes, until a three-pointer by Boris Gnjidic from the top of the arc cheered the crowd. But Brown, with a running jumper at the buzzer, pushed CSKA's lead to 46-64 after 30 minutes.
Krka needed to slow CSKA's offense and start scoring fluidly, but neither happened. Krka scored just 4 points in the opening 4 minutes of the final period, while 5 points by Alexander, a big three-pointer by Holden off the dribble and a basket by Viktor Khryapa helped CSKA to make it a 26-point game, 50-76. The outcome was clear, and nothing relevant happened the final 5 minutes other than 2 fastbreak dunks by Egor Vialtsev. The visitors kept the lead until the final buzzer, and a final block by Khryapa on Rickert summarized the game, as CSKA thrashed Krka 62-89.
Wednesday, January 21, 2004