CSKA sinks Milan for home-court advantage
In a highly entertaining game in the Russian capital, CSKA Moscow extended its winning streak to seven games by stopping AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan 101-95 on Friday. The victory secured home-court advantage in the playoffs for CSKA, whose record rose to 20-5, one win behind league leader Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul. Meanwhile, Milan saw its own five-game winning streak snapped, dropping to a 13-12 record in sixth place. Othello Hunter shined for the winners, matching his career-high with 19 points while collecting 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Cory Higgins netted 18 points, Will Clyburn scored all of his 16 in the second half, and Nando De Colo scored 12 of his 14 points in the first. Nemanja Nedovic and Vladimir Micov scored 16 apiece for Milan, Jeff Brooks had 14, while James Nunnally and Mike James each put up 13 in defeat.
The teams exchanged blows from the start. Brooks, who had 7 early points for Milan, traded dunks with Hunter and three-pointers with De Colo to make it 9-9. De Colo hit another triple and Hunter kept dominating inside, but James had a four-point play and Nedovic knocked down a corner three-pointer to make it 17-21 Milan. CSKA answered with an 8-0 run behind, again, Hunter and De Colo, and held a 27-24 lead after 10 minutes. The hosts extended the margin with Joel Bolomboy scoring a triple and a put-back dunk at 41-31. Curtis Jerrells hit a three-pointer for Milan, but back-to-back triples from Sergio Rodriguez and Higgins opened a 47-36 CSKA lead. Mindaugas Kuzminskas, from long range, lowered the gap to 51-43 at halftime, while Micov scored twice to cut it further, to 54-49 early in the third quarter. However, Clyburn soon scored a three-point play to restore a double-digit margin before Nikita Kurbanov had a put-back dunk and a three-pointer to open it up to 70-57. The hosts took a 76-66 advantage into the final quarter, then Hunter scored 6 more points to put CSKA up 86-67 with 7 minutes to go. Kaleb Tarczewski had a three-point play and Nedovic a transition triple to get Milan within 88-75. The visitors continued to melt the deficit with Nedovic scoring 8 more points, including back-to-back triples that got them to 94-87. But CSKA did not allow Milan any closer until the final second of the game.
CSKA had 41-24 rebounding advantage in the game, 20-10 on the offensive glass. It marked the sixth time this century, and the second this season, that CSKA pulled down at least 20 offensive rebounds. The club record of 24, from 2003, stays intact.
Scoring in bunches
Nando De Colo and Othello Hunter combined to score 22 of CSKA's 27 points in the first quarter, before Cory Higgins and Joel Bolomboy combined to score 17 of 24 for CSKA in the second. Will Clyburn and Nikita Kurbanov were scoreless in the first half, but scored 7 points apiece in the third quarter as CSKA opened a double-digit lead and raced to victory.
Did you catch?
CSKA has never played in the EuroLeague Playoffs without the home-court advantage. With this win, combined with a Barcelona loss against Efes, CSKA earned home-court advantage for the 13th time in 14 years.
CSKA hit its first 5 three-point attempts and knocked down 7 of 8 in the first half.
Next week in Round 26 both teams will be at home. Milan hosts a playoff-chasing rival Olympiacos Piraeus on Thursday, and a day later CSKA welcomes a classic rival, Panathinaikos OPAP Athens.
Friday, March 8, 2019