McCollum, Henry give UNICS 86-66 Game 1 home win
In an all-Russian showdown to open the 7DAYS EuroCup Playoffs, host UNICS Kazan walloped Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar 86-66 in Game 1 of their best-of-three quarterfinal series on Tuesday. UNICS has a 1-0 lead, but Lokomotiv hosts Game 2 on Friday. A win would send UNICS to the semifinals for the first time since 2015. Errick McCollum paced the winners with 32 points in a record-setting performance that included 15-for-15 free throw shooting. Pierria Henry added 18 points and 9 assists, while Raymar Morgan scored 10 for UNICS. Dmitry Kulagin led Lokomotiv with 17 points and JaJuan Johnson added 16 for the guests. Henry shined early as UNICS led 18-14 after 10 minutes, while McCollum helped keep a 41-38 margin at halftime. Both took over after the break, as UNICS boosted its margin to 66-50 after 30 minutes and cruised to a well-deserved win.
Henry hit a floater and fed Evgeny Koleshnikov for a fastbreak layup, igniting a 7-0 UNICS run that Melvin Ejim capped with a triple. Kulagin scored in penetration, Johnson struck from downtown and a driving layup by Dmitry Khvostov brought Lokomotiv within 9-7. Morgan hit a jumper and Jamar Smith added a three-pointer, good for a 14-7 UNICS lead. Jamel McLean and Johnson had 5 points for Lokomotiv, but Henry and Maurice Ndour restored a 18-12 UNICS margin. A catch-and-shoot jumper by Johnson fixed the score at 18-14 after 10 minutes. Trevor Lacey and McCollum traded baskets early in the second quarter. Mateusz Ponitka dunked before Lacey tied it and Vitaly Fridzon's wild three-point play gave Lokomotiv its first lead, 22-23. McCollum followed a three-point play with a bomb from beyond the arc for a 30-25 UNICS lead. Kulagin downed back-to-back triples but a jumper by Anton Ponkrashov and three-point play by Ejim gave UNICS fresh air at 35-31. Ndour detonated consecutive alley-oop slams, but Kulagin and McLean kept Lokomotiv within 41-38 at halftime. A layup by Ponitka and a turnaround jumper by Johnson made it a one-point game, 43-42, soon after the break. McCollum hit a jumper and followed Morgan's layup with a triple before a basket by Kostas Kaimakoglou forced a Lokomotiv timeout at 52-45. Henry kept it going with a coast-to-coast layup and a turnaround jumper for at 56-45. He and MCollum then took over to break the game open at 66-50 after 30 minutes. Smith buried a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter, getting help from McCollum and Morgan to make it 73-52 with 7 minutes left. By the time McCollum hit his third three-pointer at 80-55, everything was said and done already.
Henry dominated from the point guard position, beating every defender that Lokomotiv tried against him. He finished with 18 points on 8-of-13 two-point shooting to go with 6 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals and 5 fouls drawn for a PIR of 30.
Lokomotiv trailed 47-45 early in the second half when a three-pointer by McCollum sparked an 11-0 run in which Henry scored three consecutive baskets that boosted UNICS's lead to 58-45, enough to control the game thereafter.
UNICS tied the EuroCup record for most free throws without a miss by making 22 of 22. Three teams had hit 22-of-22 free throws previously: Alba Szekesfehervar against PAOK Thessaloniki on October 23, 2013; FMP Belgrade against Adecco ASVEL on January 31, 2006; and Buducnost against Spirou Charleroi on November 16, 2004.
Did you notice?
McCollum made all 15 of 15 free throws that he took in Game 1. That gave him a new all-time record for most free throws made in playoff game. Those were also the most free throws without a miss in the EuroCup since February 20, 2013, when Malcolm Delaney hit 16 of 16 foul shots playing for Budivelnik Kiev against Triumph Lyubertsy.
Moving up the charts
Lokomotiv's Dmitry Khostov played in his 131st EuroCup game, moving into second place behind Valencia Basket's Rafa Martinez (141) for the most in competition history. Khostov broke his tie with Vladimir Veremeenko (130). In fact, Khostov has been present for more EuroCup games (144) than any player, but he did not see action in 14 of them.
UNICS and Lokomotiv go back at it in Game 2 at Basket-Hall in Krasnodar, Russia on Friday at 18:00 CET. Lokomotiv faces elimination with a loss, just as UNICS will advance to the semifinals with a victory
Tuesday, March 5, 2019