Khimki's fourth-quarter charge sinks Zalgiris
Khimki Moscow Region got back to its winning ways by using a 23-3 fourth-quarter run to rally past visiting Zalgiris Kaunas 74-64 in the Round 21 opener on Thursday night in the Russian capital. Zalgiris seemed in control and led by 9 entering the fourth quarter, but Dee Bost and Tony Corker started and Malcolm Thomas and Jordan Mickey finished a big run that paved the way for a Khimki win. Mickey led the way with 20 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks; Thomas collected 16 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks; and Crocker netted 14 points on 4-for-5 three-point shooting for Khimki, which improved to 8-13 and dropped Zalgiris to the same record. Marius Grigonis paced the Lithuanian champs with 15 points and Nate Wolters added 10 in defeat.
Back-to-back triples from Thomas and Crocker staked Khimki to a 10-4 start. Crocker hit another one from downtown, but so did Grigonis on the other end, before baskets from Wolters and Edgaras Ulanovas tied it at 13-13. Khimki went on to keep visitors scoreless for more than 4 minutes and Stefan Markovic connected with Mickey for an alley-oop dunk to make it 19-14. However, Thomas Walkup hit a three late in the first quarter and Ulanovas early in the second to knot the score at 20-20. Another triple from Grigonis gave the visitors a 23-25 lead, but threes from Bost and Egor Vialtsev helped put Khimki back in front, 31-25. However, the hosts were without a field goal for more than 3 minutes and Zalgiris tied back the game before Ulanovas beat the buzzer with a floater to give the visitors 36-37 halftime lead. Zalgiris used a dunk from Deon Thompson and a triple from Arturas Milaknis to extend it to 38-44. A fastbreak layup by Thompson opened a 41-49 difference. Mickey had a layup and Thomas a three-pointer for the hosts, but Walkup nailed a corner triple and Antanas Kavaliauskas buried a jumper to make it 47-56 after three quarters. Khimki did not go away, though. The hosts stepped up defensively once again, while Crocker scored 8 points, including a pair of triples to put Khimki in front 59-58 midway through the fourth quarter. Grigonis answered with a three-pointer, but Bost made a runner to spark a 15-0 run that included 7 points from Mickey to send the hosts to victory.
Khimki's block party
Khimki had 9 blocks, tied for a season high in the EuroLeague. Eight of those blocks came in the first three quarters and the last one in the opening 20 seconds of the fourth. Malcolm Thomas had 3 blocks, while Jordan Mickey, Sergey Monia and Charles Jenkins each had 2.
Khimki rallied from a 9-point deficit to take a 59-58 lead and then went in front 63-61 with a dunk from Jordan Mickey. Two possessions later Malcolm Thomas drove for a basket-plus-foul. He missed a free throw, but the ball bounced into Mickey's hands and he made a layup while drawing a foul. He hit a free throw to complete a three-point play that opened a 68-61 lead. And Khimki never looked back.
Head coach Rimas Kurtinaitis got his first EuroLeague of his current candidacy on the Khimki bench against Zalgiris, his hometown team where he also became a superstar player during the 1980s.
Did you notice?
This was the eighth meeting between the two teams and the seventh consecutive win for Khimki against Zalgiris, a streak that started in December 2010.
Next Thursday in Round 22, both teams will be on the road. Khimki will visit Buducnost VOLI Podgorica and Zalgiris travels to face FC Barcelona Lassa.
Thursday, January 31, 2019