Efes downs CSKA 80-82, keeps streaking
Anadolu Efes Istanbul defeated CSKA Moscow for the first time in nearly eight years and exacted a bit of revenge from losing last season's Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Championship Game by knocking off the reigning champions 80-82 on the road. Shane Larkin scored 23 points and Vasilije Micic poured in 19 as Efes collected its first win over the Russian powerhouse since February 22, 2013. It was also the first win by Efes this century on CSKA's court in Moscow, after 10 tries. Rodrigue Beaubois added 13 points and Tibor Pleiss chipped in 11 as Efes extended its winning streak to eight games for a 20-3 record, three victories clear of any other team at the top of the standings. CSKA saw its five-game winning streak come to an end despite Mike James scoring 20 points while Johannes Voigtmann added 15 and Daniel Hackett 11. The loss, which was CSKA's first at home to Efes since 1999, dropped its record to 16-7 in the EuroLeague.
James opened the scoring for CSKA before Larkin drained a three-pointer for Efes, which went up 2-7 early. After Larkin's second triple gave Efes a 9-14 lead, Voigtmann scored twice inside to make it 13-16. Chris Singleton and Pleiss followed Larkin's lead with back-to-back triples as the lead swelled to 13-22. Voigtmann knocked down a long ball at the other end but Larkin's third three-pointer had the guests up 16-25 after 10 minutes. Pleiss scored to start the second quarter by pushing the lead to double figures, 16-27. CSKA did a better job defensively in the second frame, allowing just a triple by Micic during a five-minute stretch while Hackett scored 4 points to pull CSKA within 23-30. Efes kept CSKA at bay with a pair of second-chance scores before another Larkin triple had Efes up 30-39. James responded with a steal-and-dunk and a three-pointer as the hosts went into the break down 37-41. Howard Sant-Roos's free throws cut the deficit to start the second half. Micic and Larkin punched back with layups and Micic added a steal-and-layup for a 41-49 cushion. CSKA would not let Efes pull away as Voigtmann and James both struck from the arc at 47-50. Voigtmann was on target from the outside yet again before Kyle Hines followed with a three-point play and layup to tie the score, although Efes went back ahead, 57-58, after 30 minutes. Joel Bolomboy's inside basket started the fourth quarter and gave CSKA its first lead since the opening basket. Adrien Moerman answered with a three-pointer only to see Sant-Roos follow with a triple to put the hosts back ahead. Beaubois, however, nailed 2 triples and Efes nosed ahead 62-67. CSKA worked hard to stay close with Voigtmann's tip-in and Hackett's three-pointer forging a new tie, 69-69, midway through the fourth quarter. Bolomboy drained a corner trey and CSKA found itself up 74-72. Micic converted 4 free throws and Beaubois drained a three-pointer just before the buzzer as Efes retook the lead, 75-79, with 72 seconds to play. Nikita Kurbanov answered with a trey only to see Larkin hit a jumper to make it 78-81 with 41 seconds remaining. Hackett went to the line with 3.8 seconds left and made the first free throw and tried to miss the second but it went in to make it 80-81. That forced CSKA to foul Larkin, who split free throws to give Efes the win.
Micic getting back into form
Vasilije Micic made his return to Efes last round against Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade but the Serbian point guard stepped up his performance against CSKA with 19 points to go with 3 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals for a game-high performance index rating of 24.
James vs. Larkin
Basketball is a team game but this heavyweight battle was also a showdown of two of the best scorers in the league and Mike James vs Shane Larkin lived up to the billing. James picked up 20 points, 1 rebound and 3 assists but was hounded into 6 turnovers while Larkin collected 23 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals while committing 5 turnovers.
Efes nailed 12 of 27 three-pointers, a 44.4% rate, while CSKA connected on 10 of 37, or 27.0%, from long range.
CSKA will look to bounce back in 48 hours as it heads to Greece to take on Olympiacos Piraeus in Round 24 on Thursday. Efes hopes to extend its winning streak to nine with a home game against Zalgiris Kaunas the same night.
Tuesday, February 4, 2020