CSKA holds off archrival Zalgiris
CSKA Moscow took a crucial step towards locking down a playoffs spot in Top 16 Group E by downing Zalgiris Kaunas 70-61 in the Russian capital on Friday. CSKA improved to 8-3 and can qualify for the playoffs with a road win against Unicaja in the next Game of the Week, regardless of other scores. Zalgiris dropped to 4-7 and is all but mathematically out of chances to advance. Sonny Weems led the winners with 13 points. Viktor Khryapa added 12 and 8 rebounds, while Nenad Krstic just missed a double-double with 9 points and 8 rebounds for CSKA. Rimantas Kaukenas led Zalgiris with 16 points and Oliver Lafayette added 11 for the guests. Back-to-back baskets by Krstic allowed CSKA to get a 17-12 lead at the end of the first quarter. CSKA improved its margin to 35-26 at halftime and a triple by Zoran Erceg made it a 14-point game late in the third quarter. Back-to-back three-pointers by Lafayette sparked a 0-14 run highlighted by Ksistof Lavrinovic's four-point play to tie the game at 48-48 after 30 minutes. Weems and Khryapa struck from downtown in an 8-0 run that put CSKA ahead for good, 61-53. Zalgiris kept trying, but CSKA stayed solid on defense and cruised to a hard-fought, important home win.
First quarter: Krstic, Teodosic put CSKA ahead
Kaukenas got Zalgiris going with his trademark stop-and-pop jumper. CSKA tried twin point guards in its starting lineup so Aaron Jackson could guard Lafayette. Jackson collected a steal and buried a three-pointer for a 3-2 CSKA lead. Teodosic found Sasha Kaun for a slam and a jumper by Mindaugas Kuzminskas kept Zalgiris within 5-4. Kaun split free throws and Teodosic added a driving basket, but Zalgiris kept dominating the game tempo by using long possessions. Jeff Foote dunked, however Kaun matched him with an alley-oop slam that gave CSKA a 10-6 edge. Ksistof Lavrinovic made free throws, but Teodosic did better with a rainbow triple. Foote kept pushing Zalgiris with a basket in the paint as CSKA struggled to score late in the first quarter. Vytenis Lipkevicius took over with a fast break layup, but Nenad Krstic followed a basket inside with a buzzer-beating jumper to give CSKA some fresh air, 17-12, after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: CSKA pulls away
Vladimir Micov split free throws early in the second quarter. Darjus Lavrinovic followed with a fast break slam, which Andrey Vorontsevich erased with an acrobatic basket. Kaukenas buried an open jumper in transition, which Viktor Khryapa matched with a put-back basket that gave CSKA a 22-16 edge. Zalgiris kept missing open shots and a three-pointer by Micov forced Coach Joan Plaza to call timeout at 25-16. Zalgiris improved its defense midway through the second quarter with Robertas Javtokas and Ksistof Lavrinovic together on court. Kuzminskas made free throws, but a three-point play by Weems made it a double-digit game, 28-18. Ksistof Lavrinovic shined with a backdoor layup and a three-pointer by Lafayette gave the guests some hope at 28-23. Jackson answered from downtown, however, and a fast break layup by Krstic caused Zalgiris to stop the game at 33-23. A triple by Kaukenas and a layup by Khryapa fixed the halftime score at 35-26.
Third quarter: Zalgiris storms back with 14 unanswered points
Javtokas sank a hook shot immediately after the break. A huge block by Kaun allowed Weems to bury a three-pointer at the other end to restore a 38-28 CSKA lead. Kaun picked up his third foul, but Krstic came off the bench and immediately delivered with a close jumper. Kaukenas beat the shot clock buzzer with a six-meter shot, which Jackson bettered with a triple from the corner for a 13-points CSKA margin. Papaloukas scored off a steal and Zalgiris called a much-needed timeout at 45-30, after a 10-2 run. Zalgiris tried to open the floor with the Lavrinovic twins together on court. Darjus Lavrinovic scored around the basket and a jumper by Lafayette gave Zalgiris some hope. Zoran Erceg answered from downtown, but back-to-back triples by a red-hot Lafayette brought Zalgiris within single digits, 48-40. Kuzminskas dunked to before CSKA stopped the game at 48-42. Ksistof Lavrinovic provided a highlight with a four-point play and a reverse layup by his brother Darjus capped a 0-14 run which tied the game, 48-48, through three quarters.
Fourth quarter: CSKA breaks away to get another win
Khryapa struck from downtown early in the fourth quarter but Darjus Lavrinovic buried his own three-pointer to tie the game again, 51-51. Micov fed Kaun for a dunk, which Kuzminskas erased with a close basket. Weems joined the three-point shootout and Khryapa downed another one from beyond the arc to give CSKA a 59-53 margin with over 6 minutes to go. Weems scored around the basket to force Zalgiris to call timeout at 61-53, after an 8-0 run. Darjus Lavrinovic stepped up with a layup, Kaun made free throws and a close basket by Micov restored a double-digit CSKA lead, 65-55, with over four minutes left. Krstic split free throws, Kaukenas took over with a backdoor layup and a turnaround jumper by Weems sealed the outcome, 68-57. Zalgiris called timeout and kept trying, but CSKA had already sealed a key home win and its fans had plenty of time to celebrate that their team is a step closer to sealing a ticket to the Euroleague Playoffs!
Friday, March 15, 2013