CSKA stops host Zvezda, 81-86
Defending champions CSKA Moscow ended a two-game losing streak by pulling away to beat host Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 81-86 in what had been a one-point game early in the final quarter. CSKA stayed in fourth place with a 17-8 record, while Zvezda fell to 10-15, but still one victory from the last playoff spot. Mike James scored 24 of his 29 points after halftime to lead the winners. Daniel Hackett followed with 19 points and Darrun Hilliard added 12 for CSKA. Billy Baron led Zvezda with 15 points. Kevin Punter added 12 points, Vladimir Stimac and James Gist 11, and Lorenzo Brown 10 for the hosts. Zvezda had led 37-36 on Baron's halftime buzzer-beater, but CSKA came out after the break with a 7-18 run to take control. Zvezda drew within 62-63 early in the fourth quarter, but another CSKA run of 4-15 put the game away.
Kyle Hines scored twice inside and assisted Nikita Kurbanov as CSKA went ahead 5-6 early, but Brown's transition layup put Zvezda in front after 5 minutes. Marko Jagodic-Kuridza, Stimac and Brown upped the difference to 13-9 but Hilliard answered from deep and James hit a free throw to tie. Brown's free throws gave Zvezda a 17-16 advantage after 10 minutes. Dejan Davidovac and Stratos Perperoglou, from deep, made it 22-20 early in the second quarter, but Hackett scored 6 points in an 0-8 CSKA run to a 22-28 lead. Punter and Gist joined Zvezda's scorers before Michael Ojo's hook shot forged another tie, 30-30. Brown's triple made it 34-32 before a first field goal by James and free throws by Nikita Kurbanov sent CSKA ahead. Baron had the last word of the half from downtown, beating the buzzer to seize a 37-36 lead for Zvezda. After the break, Hackett and James broke CSKA's long three-point drought to send the visitors in front 39-44. Baron pulled Zvezda within 45-48, but Hilliard's 5 points in a row boosted CSKA to a 45-53 margin. James kept it going by feeding Joel Bolomboy for a dunk and downing a deep second-chance triple for a 53-60 CSKA lead after three quarters. Punter drove and Gist converted a three-point play to open the fourth quarter. Punter bettered 3 free throws by James with a four-point play to make it 62-63. A triple by Hackett, fastbreak layup by Johannes Voigtmann and another second-chance triple by James let CSKA surge again to the game's first double-digit lead, 66-78, with under 5 minutes left. Davidovac and Baron cut the difference to 71-78, but CSKA continued piling up offensive rebounds and James kept hitting free throws into the final minute to make sure the victory went back to Moscow.
Tale of two halves for James
With James struggling to make 1 field goal on 7 attempts and 3 of 6 free throws in the first half, CSKA was behind. He wasn't much more accurate from the field after that, finishing 3-for-8 on two-pointers and 3-for-11 from downtown, but his 11-for-12 accuracy at the line in the second half proved a difference maker. Those were the most free throw attempts of the season in the EuroLeague, and his 14 foul shots made tied for the second-most.
Hines goes up the charts
With 3 two-point shots made against Zvezda, CSKA center Kyle Hines moved into fifth place all-time, with 950 total, passing Mike Batiste, who had made 949 in his 12-season EuroLeague career. His third basket of the first quarter put Hines past Batiste. Ahead of Hines now are only active players: Ante Tomic (1,129), Georgios Printezis (1,065), Felipe Reyes (965) and Paulius Jankunas (960).
Gist moves up, too
Zvezda veteran James Gist pulled 2 offensive rebounds to move in the top 10 all-time in that category, with 385. He is tied with Mirsad Turkcan for the 10th spot, with two active players, Othello Hunter and Bryant Dunston, tied for eighth place with 403 each.
CSKA's biggest statistical advantage en route to victory was on the boards, where the visitors out-rebounded Zvezda 38-27, including a 13-7 advantage on the offensive glass. Kyle Hines led CSKA with 5 offensive boards, 3 of which came in the last 4 minutes, leading to 5 points and preventing any Zvezda comeback.
In Round 26, CSKA hosts a superpower matchup with FC Barcelona on Thursday, the same night that Zvezda visits KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz in the the first of its six road games in the last nine rounds.
Friday, February 21, 2020