Olympiacos, a blowout 87-69 winner over Khimki
Despite missing one of its top players, Olympiacos left no doubt about its standing atop Group H when it overwhelmed visiting Khimki Moscow Region by 87-69 at home in Piraeus, Greece, on Wednesday. The victory was good for exclusive control of first place in the group at 2-0, while Khimki fell to 1-1 and what will be a tie for second place with either Caja Laboral or Cibona, who play Thursday. The Reds started strong, led by double figures already in the first quarter and though Khimki never gave in, Olympiacos held on tight before pulling away in the last 10 minutes for the win. Yotam Halperin paced the winners with 15 points in 18 minutes, Sofoklis Schortsanitis added 14 points, Linas Kleiza scored 12 and grabbed 7 rebounds, Nikola Vujcic added 11 points, Loukas Mavrokefalides 10 and freshly crowned Sportingbet January MVP Milos Teodosic tallied 9 points and 4 assists. Olympiacos was without All-Euroleague center Ioannis Bourousis, who missed the game with a broken nose. Keith Langford led Khimki with 18 points, Kelly McCarty added 15 and Robertas Javtokas finished with 10 points and 9 boards.
Teodosic received his Sportingbet January MVP trophy from Euroleague Basketball CEO Jordi Bertomeu just before tipoff and then opened the scoring after a tense couple minutes with a heads-up rebound and put-back. Schortsanitis powered in the next basket to put the Reds up 4-0 before Paulius Jankunas converted a pass by McCarty for Khimki's first points. A turnaround in the lane by Kleiza kept Olympiacos rolling while Javtokas did the same for the guests at 6-4, but the defenses were still dominant after five minutes. A timeout changed that trend as Halperin popped a triple off a screen for the hosts and Vujcic drop-stepped to a baseline layup. When Halperin added another layup and Josh Childress a steal-dunk combo, the Reds were suddenly way ahead, 15-4. Khimki used a timeout to figure out how to get the ball to the basket, which Langford did immediately, but at the other end, Halperin blasted another shot from the arc. Langford drew a second foul on the same possession by Childress and his free throws made it 18-8. Kleiza rebounded and dunked against Khimki's zone before Langford hit an acrobatic runner. Theo Papaloukas outdid that with a nifty reverse, however, as Olympiacos led 22-10 after one quarter.
Javtokas hooked in pair of a shots and cleaned up on the boards to spark Khimki as the second quarter began. McCarty kept it going with a triple from the corner at 22-17 following great ball movement. Vujcic finally answered after three scoreless minutes for Olympiacos with a pump-fake put-back and the free throw that came with the foul. Raul Lopez, Khimki's smallest player, and Schortsanitis, the Reds' biggest, traded inside baskets. Lopez saved a possession and fed Timofey Mozgov for a three-point play before Jankunas added a triple as Khimki moved within 29-25 on the scoreboard, prompting an Olympiacos timeout. Schortsanitis got 2 points back at the foul line, McCarty matched them with a baseline jumper, but Halperin returned then for a layup-plus-free throw to put the Reds up 34-27. And they weren't done. Schortsanitis powered in the next basket before Scoonie Penn's steal broke Halperin for another basket for a solid 38-28 Olympiacos lead at halftime.
Childress to Kleiza for an easy basket opened the second half. Langford answered with a clean jumper. Langford soon struck again, from the corner, as Khimki pulled within 40-33. Halperin got 2 points back on free throws for Olympiacos, but Langford matched those, too. Childress got the fans out of their seats with a cross-over and dunk combination, but Langford could not be stopped as he fired a three-pointer over Halperin. Now, he got help, too, as Carlos Cabezas refused to be denied before canning his own triple at 44-40. Schortsanitis defied the laws of motion by pirouetting for a pair of baskets, but in between, McCarty flew off a screen and buried a two-pointer. A slow few minutes consisted of Kleiza exchanging 4 free throws with Javtokas and Langford before Teodosic busted out again with a shot from way downtown to make it 54-46. His free throws then re-upped the lead to double digits, but Lopez fired in one triple and assisted Vitaly Fridzon on another to threaten the lead, 58-52. With just 3 seconds left for an inbounds play, Olympiacos found Teodosic, who scored, was fouled and knocked down the free throw to make it 61-52 after 30 minutes.
Papaloukas started the fourth quarter trying to break Khimki's spirit with a big triple. Soon, late entry Mavrokefalides was putting down consecutive inside shot for the game's highest lead yet, 68-54, which prompted a Khimki timeout. The visitors could not break through the Olympiacos defense, however, as the difference climbed on free throws by Kleiza and a short jumper by Papaloukas. McCarty responded with a three-point play for Khimki, but he was the only player among the visitors getting anything through the basket, while Mavrokefalides was now a go-to man for Olympiacos, upping the difference to 78-59 on his fourth layup of the quarter. With the outcome clear in the last three minutes, the final margin was the only question. Olympiacos kept going inside, to Mavrokefalides and Childress to finish strong and prove that they are the best team right now in Group H.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010