CSKA came from 15 down to beat Zalgiris 68-83
CSKA Moscow survived a stern test on the road at Zalgiris, pulling away over the final 15 minutes for a 68-83 win at the S. Darius and S. Girenas Sport Center. Zalgiris dominated early, led by 15 midway through the second quarter, by 10 at the break and by 9 in the middle of the third quarter, but Trajan Langdon and Viktor Khryapa stepped up when needed most as CSKA pieced together a 2-13 run late in the third and a 0-12 charge early in the fourth to pull away for the victory. The win extended CSKA’s unbeaten streak to nine games and kept it in first place in Group G at 2-0. The Russian champs return home to host Asseco Prokom next week, while Zalgiris will look for its first Top 16 win when it visits Unicaja. Zalgiris enjoyed superb shooting and worked the pick-and-roll to perfection early on in establishing a promising lead, but lost its confidence in the second half as CSKA stormed to victory. Langdon finished with 17 points, Khryapa posted 16 points as well as team-highs of 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals, Zoran Planinic also scored 16 and J.R. Holden came off the bench to score all of his 11 points in the first half when CSKA was struggling. Tadas Klimavicus paced Zalgiris with 12 points and Dainius Salenga and Aleksandar Capin netted 10 each in defeat.
Both teams went inside early, but centers Mirza Begic and Sasha Kaun nullified each other. Salenga fed Klimavicus for the game’s first basket and Planinic hit a jumper for CSKA’s first points. A patient offensive approach by Salenga, who rattled in a three, and point guard Mantas Kalnietis, who found an open Begic for a slam, pushed the hosts to a 9-2 start. Holden came in for Planinic to pressure Kalnietis. Zalgiris head coach Ramunas Butautas answered back by bringing Capin off the bench and he promptly burned Holden for a left-handed layup. CSKA settled down and gnawed at its deficit, closing to 13-10 on a Dmitry Sokolov free throw. Zalgiris regained the momentum as Sokolov soon committed an unsportsmanlike foul on Mario Delas, who hit 2 free throws, and Marty Pocius converted an acrobatic layup to make it 19-12. The visitors were consistently slow to defend the pick-and-roll and uncharacteristically missed a few free throws as Zalgiris extended the lead. Holden sank a pull-up jumper, but Kalnietis banked in a runner to lift his team to 26-17 after 10 minutes.
The lead reached double figures as Begic sank a hook shot to start the second quarter and Marcus Brown’s second triple made it 31-17. Holden stepped up with back-to-back triples. Zalgiris used a timeout to settle down and Capin came back with a triple only to see Holden drill another one at the other end. A Klimavicus three and a second-chance triple by Salenga after Klimavicius snagged the rebounds too the lead to 42-27 and the decibel level to dangerous heights. Planinic tried to settle his team with a foul-line jumper and a triple, but every Zalgiris basket ignited the home crowd anew. Kaun joined Sokolov on the bench with three fouls, but young Andrey Vorontsevich came in and scored underneath to bring CSKA within 45-35 at halftime.
Khryapa tried to spark CSKA with a triple, but Begic responded by dunking on the CSKA forward at the other end. The pace of the game picked up and CSKA took advantage as Langdon, Planinic and Khryapa all contributed. Kalnietis took a steal coast to coast for a layup to get the crowd going, however Vorontsevich jumper followed by a Khryapa slam on the break made it 51-48. Capin’s pull-up jumper helped Zalgiris remain ahead despite a Ramunas Siskauskas triple that cut the gap to 2. Siskauskas soon tied the score with a close range jumper and the visitors slowly, but surely executed their game plan. Vorontsevich gave CSKA its first lead from the line as quiet fell over the arena. The troubles grew for Zalgiris when Begic committed his fourth foul. Vorontsevich tacked on 2 more free throws to cap a 2-13 run. Brown sank a big three just before the third-quarter buzzer to lift his team to within 56-57 and charge his teammates and the local fans ahead of the fourth quarter.
Siskauskas struck from downtown only to see Capin match him. Then Langdon nailed a three and Salenga committed his fourth foul. Khryapa underneath and Langdon from outside continued the CSKA run. Langdon added free throws and Khryapa drained a triple to cap a 0-12 run as the visitors put the game away. Mario Delas converted a three-point play and Salenga added a jumper to revive the fans, but a red-hot Langdon connected on another three as CSKA rolled. Delas added 2 more free throws, but Planinic took care of business with a three-pointer that wrapped up the win and sent the local fans home disappointed.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010