Barcelona dominates glass and Khimki
FC Barcelona won its seventh straight game against Khimki Moscow Region 75-87 on Tuesday night at Arena Mytishchi in the Russian capital. The visitors led by as many as 20 before Khimki closed the gap late. Barcelona dominated the glass 22-44, including 16 offensive rebounds in improving its record to 13-6. Cory Higgins and Kyle Kuric scored 18 points apiece to lead Barcelona, Rolands Smits added 12 points, Alex Abrines had 11, Pierre Oriola tallied 9 points and 10 rebounds and Nick Calathes scored 8 points and set a club record with 15 assists. Alexey Shved paced Khimki with 23 points and 6 assists, Devin Booker scored 13, Jordan Mickey 11 and Errick McCollum 10 as Khimki lost its 11th straight game to fall to 2-17.
Khimki jumped in front with threes by Egor Vialtsev, Shved and Booker on as many possessions. Smits and Abrines provided the Barcelona resistance before Higgins capped a 0-8 run with a layup for Barcelona's first lead, 9-10. Khimki regained in control through triples by Booker and Shved to make it 18-14. Kuric came off the bench and knocked down a three for Barcelona that tied it at 20-20 as Calathes racked up his 6th assist of the opening quarter. Kuric scored twice more to keep things even at 26-26 after 10 minutes. The Barca shooting guard started the second quarter with 2 more threes that pushed the visitors in front, 28-32. Dairis Bertans soon tied it at 34-34 with 3 free throws, but Higgins went coach to coast for a layup before feeding Calathes for a layup that put Barcelona back in control, 38-43, midway through the quarter. McCollum's step-through jumper kept Khimki close. Calathes notched his 10th assist on a Smits free throw and Smits's alley-oop slam lifted the visitors to a 48-54 halftime cushion.
Barcelona added to the lead early in the second half and Higgins scored twice as the margin soared to 52-64. Calathes took a seat with 3 fouls, but Khimki could get no closer than 9 the rest of the quarter. A three by Higgins extended the difference to 14 before McCollum split free throws to end the third quarter at 60-73. The Barcelona defense held Khimki to just 2 points in the first 4 minutes of the fourth quarter as the visitors pulled away for good. The difference reached 20 after late threes by Abrines. A late flurry by Khimki made the final score more respectable, but the outcome was longer in doubt.
Nick Calathes was at his best setting up teammates all over the place to set a club record with 15 assists. Calathes delivered 6 helpers in the first quarter and had 10 by halftime. He broke his own record at the club after dishing 14 against AX Armani Exchange Milan last month. It marked the 18th time in EuroLeague history that a player has recorded at least 15 assists; Calathes has his name on six ofthose performancese.
Barcelona's thorough domination on the rebounds, 22-44, made a bigger impact than anything else. However, the visitors' defense also made a big difference by holding Khimki to 6-of-18 two-point shooting (33.3%) and 3-of-11 (27.3%) on threes in the second half when it was outscored 27-33.
With his 5 three-pointers, Alexey Shved moved past Arturas Milaknis of Zalgiris Kaunas for ninth place in competition history with 395 career triples, though Milaknis will have a chance to catch him on Wednesday night when his team faces CSKA Moscow. Kyle Kuric's 4-for-4 shooting from behind the arc took his success rate for the season to 61.4%, which is on pace for the all-time single-season record. That record currently belongs to Pawel Wiekiera, who made 60% of his triples for Idea Slask in 2002-03. Kuric also moved past teammate Cory Higgins (45.4%) for second place among active players at 45.5%. The active leader is Zalgiris's Marius Grigonis at 46.2%.
Khimki heads on the road for its next game on Thursday, January 14, at Anadolu Efes Istanbul. Barcelona will remain in Moscow to take on league-leading CSKA the following evening.
Tuesday, January 12, 2021