A Euroleague record for defense fell and CSKA improved to 3-0 in Group B by thrashing Krka Novo Mesto 89-35 on Wednesday in Moscow. That point total for Krka was the lowest allowed by a defense in any game since the Euroleague started in 2000. The previous record low had been 40 points scored by London Towers against Union Olimpija in 2001, although the third-lowest point total came only last week, when Efes beat Asvel 69-44. J.R. Holden led CSKA with 17 points. Krka, having undergone a coaching change and the loss of two point guards in the last two weeks, dropped to 0-3 despite. Krka ended up shooting 12-for-55 from the field and commiting 21 turnovers, scoring just 14 second-half points. J.R. Holden led all scorers in the game with 17 points on 8-for-10 field goals for CSKA. Marcus Brown added 15 on 7-for-9 shooting while Victor Alexander chipped in 10, all in the first quarter. Rick Rickert was the top Krka scorer with just 7 points.
The first few minutes of the game were nothing at all like the rest of it. It took CSKA that long to catch the right mood. The hosts started with Brown turnover, a foul by Alexander and misses by Turkcan and Holden. Krka, meanwhile, played well on offense and, thanks to a Rick Rickert layup followed by a three-pointer from Marko Antonijevic, led 5-0. Just about from that moment forward, however, CSKA started making all its shots and Krka could not buy a basket. The first CSKA player to warmed up was Alexander. Over the next 7 minutes, he scored 10 points himself in a 23-2 run that lasted until the end of the quarter. CSKA played excellent defense to which Krka could not find solutions. When CSKA had tripled Krka's score, 21-7, the visitors called a timeout, but the quarter ended with 2 more points for the hosts, 23-7.
The second quarter was a near repeat of the first one. The only big difference was a zone defence which Krka was trying to use and the usual second period rotation of the CSKA roster. Sergei Monya, Dragan Tarlac and Anton Ioudine came off the bench to power CSKA now. Ioudine scored 2 three-pointers and Monya added 7 points and 2 steals as the local lead kept growing. Soon, a dunk by Monya made it a 25-point game, 41-16. There was no sign at all that the guests would be able to stop or even to slow CSKA down. The game even started to have some elements of a show as CSKA made some spectacular dunks to warm up the audience. Krka would score more points in this quarter than any other, but at the end of the half its two-point accuracy was just 28% as compared to 80% for CSKA. The scoreboard read 48-21.
The third quarter followed the same parameters, except that Krka's scoring went below even its first-quarter output. Meanwhile, the show went on for CSKA. Teodoros Paploukas opened the second half with a three-point play, and Marcus Brown soon added 6 points, in an early 13-2 CSKA run to open a 38-point lead, 61-23. Included in the fun was another selection of slam dunks as Krka's demoralized defense could do nothing but watch. There was no questions at all about the winner of the game and no signs that CSKA would let Krka to discuss it. The guests scored only 6 points in 10 minutes. The quarter ended with the score 72-27 and the question of a defensive record on the minds of everyone.
The last period was a formality by all means, but CSKA did not calm down, either. Sergei Panov opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back bombs from downtown and Alexei Savrasenko added four points to make it a 50-point game, 82-32. Krka could not find their way to the basket, as they went scoreless for 5 minutes late in the game, until Mario Dundovic scored a three-point play for the final score. Ironically enough, Krka scored the first and last points of the game. The buzzer stopped it at 89-35. CSKA got their biggest win in recent history, while people in Novo Mesto will not easily forget what happened on this day in Moscow.
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Maria Kravtchenko, Moscow