Khimki routs ALBA to end losing skid
Khimki Moscow Region snapped a four-game losing streak on Thursday with a 104-87 beating of ALBA Berlin at Arena Mytishchi. Devin Booker dominated with a career-high 24 points plus 10 rebounds and Alexey Shved tallied 22 points and 8 assists as the team lifted its record to 7-6 to remain in the playoff zone. Jonas Jerebko added a personal best of 18 points and Anthony Gill scored 16 for the winners. ALBA pieced together 11 straight points that bridged the first and second quarters to lead by as many as 12, but after allowing 39 points in the game’s first 12 minutes, the Khimki defense held ALBA to 48 points in the remaining 28 minutes. Rokas Giedraitis paced the visitors with 17 points, Niels Giffey scored 14, Landry Nnoko mounted his first career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds, Luke Sikma added 10 points and Peyton Siva produced 8 points and 9 assists. The loss dropped ALBA's record to 4-9.
The teams followed the expected script with free-flowing offenses dominating the early proceedings; Nnoko tied it at 9-9 after 4 minutes with seven players having scored already. Sikma and Booker each heated up and kept the scoreboard moving. Giedraitis put back his own miss to give ALBA 8 second-chance points in as many minutes. A pair of Giffey three-pointers and another from Giedraitis put ALBA in charge and Kresimir Nikic added a basket to make it 23-32 after 10 minutes. Kenneth Ogbe drained a triple from the corner to start the second quarter and stretch the ALBA run to 11 straight points and take the ALBA lead to double figures. Jerebko and Shved highlighted a 10-2 Khimki run that drew the hosts within 37-41. Dairis Bertans completed the comeback with a three-pointer that made it 43-43 and Booker finally gave the hosts the lead, 50-48. Gill extended the lead to 54-51 at the break. ALBA had no answer for Booker after the break and he led an 8-0 run to give Khimki its first double-digit lead, 62-51. Sikma dunked to end a 3-plus-minute scoreless stretch for ALBA, but Booker continued to roll, and the margin grew to 16. Free throws by Makai Mason made it 77-63 through three quarters. Little changed after that; ALBA never got closer than 12 and Khimki surged to lead by as many as 19. Shved sank a free throw to put the hosts into triple figures before sitting for the final minutes as Khimki gained a valuable victory.
There were many similarities between the teams, but the big differences were in two-point shooting and turnovers. ALBA committed 15 turnovers, which were 9 more than the hosts. Khimki made the most of those by scoring 19 points off turnovers compared to 10 for ALBA. Khimki converted 28 of 42 two-point shots (66.7%), while ALBA attempted one more two-point shot, but made 6 fewer (51.2%).
Devin Booker set career-highs with 24 points and a performance index rating of 36 and… he did not even step on the floor in the fourth quarter! Booker shot 10 for 14 from the floor and was perfect in 4 trips to the foul line. He added 10 rebounds – including a personal-best 5 on the offensive end, 2 assists and 1 steal. Booker drew 4 fouls and did not commit any.
Giffey heat check
ALBA's Niels Giffey came into the game as the competition' all-time leader in three-point accuracy and he padded his record against Khimki. Giffey made his first 3 triples of the game but missed twice late to finish 3 for 5. Nonetheless, he raised his career success rate to 51.3% to remain ahead of Fran Pilepic (50.45%). He also has the best single-season percentage in competition history, but he saw his number drop from 70.4% to 68.8%. The single-season record is currently held by Pawel Wiekiera of Idea Slask who made 18 of 30 threes (60%) in the 2002-03 season.
The two-round week for December will be on us next week. ALBA will face German League rival on Wednesday and visit French champion LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne on Friday. Khimki travels to Greece to take on Olympiacos Piraeus on Wednesday and hosts Lithuanian champion Zalgiris two days later.
Thursday, December 12, 2019