CSKA Moscow took a step closer to the Quarterfinal Playoffs in Group E by thrashing Partizan 67-44 in the Russian capital on Wednesday for its 15th straight home win. CSKA improved to 2-0 in Group G and could become the exclusive leader atop the standings if DKV Joventut beats Olympiacos on Thursday. Meanwhile, Partizan dropped to 0-2 and needs to start winning right away to keep its playoff hopes alive. CSKA held Partizan to 44 points and both teams combined for 111, both the second-lowest marks ever in a Top 16 game. The records belong to Efes Pilsen, which held Benetton Treviso to 43 points on March 10, 2005, in a game where both teams combined for just 95. Oscar Torres and Matjaz Smodis led the winners each with 11 points, while Anton Ponkrashov had 10 off the CSKA bench. Kosta Perovic had 10 for Partizan. CSKA had a slim lead thoughout the opening half, but Trajan Langdon and Ponkrashov helped the hosts to a double-digit halftime margin, 37-27. Partizan got as close as 39-33 midway through the third quarter, but a 13-2 run allowed CSKA to seal the win long before the final buzzer.
Smodis opened the game with a three-pointer from the left wing and then fed Torres for another bomb from downtown for a 6-2 CSKA lead. Predrag Drobnjak joined the three-point festival with one from the right wing and then Perovic scored in the paint to give the visitors their first lead, 6-7. Smodis found Langdon for a big triple, but Perovic buried a jumper that tied the game at 9-9. Aleksey Savrasenko scored inside before an active Smodis added free throws to restore a 4-point CSKA lead at 13-9. Torres capped a 7-0 CSKA run with a triple, but Dusan Kecman answered from downtown to get Partizan within 16-12. Theo Papaloukas stepped on court and soon delivered a layup, which Perovic matched at the other end. Partizan went scoreless for 2 minutes until free throws by Thomas Van den Spiegel and David Andersen gave CSKA a 21-14 lead after 10 minutes.
Van den Spiegel heated up t the start of the second quarter with a slam and a big block on Uros Tripkovic at the other end. Partizan continued to struggle to score and called a much-needed timeout. The visitors remained scoreless for 4 minutes until Tripkovic nailed one from downtown. Papaloukas answered with a quick layup, but Drobnjak copied him to get Partizan within 25-19. CSKA did not find the right rhythm in offense either, but good defense kept the hosts ahead. Kecman hit free throws to cut the gap to 4, however Drobnjak picked up his third foul and returned to the bench. Ponkrashov came off the bench to feed Savrasenko for an easy basket and then he fired in a bomb from downtown to put CSKA up 30-23. Vonteego Cummings stepped up with a mid-range jumper and Smodis and Nikola Pekovic then traded free throws. Langdon buried a three-pointer and Ponkrashov added a jumper to give CSKA its biggest lead yet, 37-27, at halftime.
Pekovic tried to ignit the Partizan comeback with a quick basket after the break, as Papaloukas, Smodis and J.R. Holden missed consecutive three-point shots. CSKA opted to look for its big men inside and Papaloukas fed Savrasenko for a score. Pekovic shined again with consecutive put-back baskets to cut the deficit to 39-33. CSKA kept looking for outside shots without much success. But once Partizan entered the foul bonus, CSKA opted to attack the basket. Smodis hit free throws and then Holden fired in a triple – his first basket – to make it an 11-point game. Partizan improved its defense, holding CSKA scoreless for 2 minutes, but only managed to get within 44-35 on a layup by Perovic. Holden rescued CSKA with 4 free throws and Andersen buried a jumper to give CSKA a 50-35 advantage after three quarters.
Torres capped a 9-0 run with a jumper early in the final period, but Tripkovic matched it with a layup for a 52-37 Partizan deficit. The visitors needed to improve their offense in the final period and started to score fluently, but CSKA had other ideas in mind. The defending champs held Partizan scoreless for more than 2 minutes, during which Ponkrashov buried a three-pointer and then stole the ball and took it in for a dunk for a 20-point CSKA margin, 57-37, with 6 minutes to go. Partizan called timeout and slowly improved its offense, but only managed to trade baskets now. Free throws by Smodis and a put-back basket by Savrasenko kept CSKA way ahead, 61-40, with 3 minutes remaining allowing CSKA to enjoy the closing minutes of yet another defensive exhibition that makes it the team to beat in Group G.
Wednesday, February 21, 2007