Caja Laboral claims season-saving win at Khimki
In one of the best games so far this season, Caja Laboral Vitoria improved its chances to reach the playoffs from Top 16 Group F by edging BC Khimki Moscow Region 82-86 on the road on Friday. Both teams are now tied at 7-6 in Group F and retain chances to make it to the playoffs. Andres Nocioni paced the winners with 24 points. Maciej Lampe added 21, Nemanja Bjelica scored 13 and Fernando San Emeterio got 10, while Omar Cook dished 11 assists for Vitoria. Paul Davis led five Khimki scorers in double digits with 15 points. Sergey Monya added 13, Petteri Koponen and James Augustine each had 12, K.C. Rivers 10 and Zoran Planinic dished 9 assists for the hosts. Nocioni had 11 points in the first quarter and a buzzer-beating basket by Nemanja Bjelica gave Vitoria a 19-22 lead after 10 minutes. An outstanding Monya allowed Khimki to regain the lead, 32-31, midway through the second quarter. Vitoria found a new go-to guy in Lampe, who helped the guests to restore a 43-46 edge at halftime. Nocioni and Lampe kept leading Vitoria after the break as the guests to extend their margin to double figures early in the fourth quarter. Nemanja Bjelica took over right after that to boost Vitoria's lead to 63-79. It didn't last long, however, as Koponen, Vitaly Fridzon and Davis fueled a 17-2 run that brought Khimki back in the game, 80-81. But Nocioni downed a critical three-pointer and free throws by San Emeterio sealed the outcome with 0.4 seconds left.
First quarter: Nocioni takes charge, puts Vitoria ahead
Nocioni split free throws early in the game and a running layup by Milko Bjelica gave Vitoria a 0-3 lead. Egor Vyaltsev got Khimki going with a backdoor layup, which Nocioni bettered with 3 foul shots. Zoran Planinic made free throws and fed Kresimir Loncar for an easy basket that tied it at 6-6. Nocioni kept pushing Vitoria with a power layup. K.C. Rivers answered with a driving basket. Vyaltsev shined with an acrobatic fast break layup that gave Khimki its first lead, 10-8. Tibor Pleiss took over with a put-back slam, but Rivers answered from downtown. Nocioni nailed a triple in transition and David Jelinek added a layup-plus-foul to restore a 13-16 Vitoria margin. Vitaly Fridzon came off the bench and immediately delivered with a corner triple and a driving layup. Nocioni provided a highlight with a huge put-back layup and free throws by Maciej Lampe gave Laboral a 17-20 edge. A fast break layup by Koponen and a buzzer-beating basket by Nemanja Bjelica fixed the score at 19-22 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter:Lampe heats up as visitors remain on top
Davis split free throws early in the second quarter and a three-pointer by Lampe allowed Vitoria to take a 20-25 edge. Monya answered from downtown and a turnaround jumper by Davis tied it at 25-25. Nemanja Bjelica joined the three-point shootout before Monya scored in the low post. Lampe took over with a layup-plus-foul, good for a 27-31 Vitoria margin. Monya knocked down a baseline jumper and a catch-and-shoot three-pointer that restored a 32-31 Khimki lead. Fernando San Emeterio scored in penetration and a fast break layup by Lampe gave the guests some fresh air, 32-35. Davis ignited the crowd with a wild slam, but San Emeterio did better with a triple. Rivers shined with an up-and-under layup and a baseline jumper by Davis tied it at 38-38. Nocioni banked in a close shot and a three-pointer by Koponen put Khimki back ahead, 41-40. San Emeterio scored again, Augustine made free throws and a close jumper by Lampe gave Vitoria the lead, 43-44. Lampe dunked to fix the halftime score at 43-46.
Third quarter: Lampe, Nocioni keep rolling
Augustine scored down low immediately after the break and a three-pointer by Monya restored a 48-46 Khimki lead. Vitoria was held scoreless until Lampe stepped up with a close basket. Nocioni made free throws, but back-to-back layups by Loncar gave the hosts a 52-50 edge. Fabien Causeur split free throws and a corner triple by Cook provided another lead change, 52-54. Nocioni fired in a bomb from downtown, as Khimki put Davis back on the floor to improve its offense. Lampe took over with a backdoor layup that made it a 7-point game midway through the quarter. Davis and Causeur scored around the basket and Nocioni downed another triple to make it a double-digit game, 54-64. Augustine tried to ignite the hosts' comeback with a fast break layup, but Lampe matched him with a jump hook. Augustine kept pacing Khimki with a tip-in and a jump hook. Causeur made free throws to keep Vitoria way ahead, 60-68, through three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Vitoria holds off Khimki's wild rally
Nemanja Bjelica stepped up with a follow-up layup early in the fourth quarter. A three-pointer by Causeur soon broke the game open, 60-73, with over eight minutes to go. Rivers sank a fade-away jumper that Nemanja Bjelica bettered with a triple. Koponen split free throws only to see a red-hot Nemanja Bjelica answer from way downtown to make it a 16-point game, 63-79. Koponen joined the three-point shootout and a jumper by Augustine brought Khimki within 68-79. Koponen buried another one from beyond the arc to give the hosts hope at. After Lampe split free throws, Davis shined with a put-back basket. San Emeterio soon gave Vitoria a 73-81 margin. Fridzon struck from downtown and Davis swished a mid-range jumper to bring Khimki back in the game, 78-81, with four minutes left. Vitoria kept struggling to score right when it mattered most and Rivers shined with a wild driving basket for an 80-81 Khimki deficit. Nocioni silenced the crowd with a triple in the next-to-last minute and Davis made free throws for an 82-84 score with 45.4 seconds left. Lampe missed down low, giving Khimki a chance to tie the game in the final seconds. However Koponen missed a floating jumper and San Emeterio's free throws allowed Vitoria to seal a good-as-gold road win.
Friday, March 29, 2013