Rodriguez , CSKA hand Panathinaikos its first home loss
In a classic battle that went down to the wire, CSKA Moscow sent Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens to its first home defeat of the season, a 70-75 decision on Friday night in the Greek capital. CSKA improved to 15-4 on the season, two games clear at the top of the standings, while Panathinaikos dropped to 12-7 in a share of the fourth place. After a tight first half, it was pure excitement in the second. Panathinaikos opened a 10-point early in the third quarter, but CSKA caught up before the end of the quarter. The teams traded blows in the fourth, before the visitors went on a 3-10 run to open a 63-71 margin. The lead almost disappeared, but Sergio Rodriguez hit a game-deciding triple with 49 seconds to go to help CSKA hold on. Rodriguez finished with 21 points on 4-for-6 from three-point land. Cory Higgins had 14 points, Othello Hunter added 12, and Nando De Colo 10 in victory. Nikos Pappas was the top scorer for the hosts with 14 points, while Nick Calathes collected 13 points, 11 assists and 6 rebounds. Thanasis Antetokounmpo also scored 13, while K.C. Rivers netted 11 points with 6 rebounds in his team’s first home loss of the season.
Panathinaikos opened the game with Antetokounmpo scoring inside, and Chris Singleton knocking one down from the long range. Calathes threw the first in a series of alley-oop passes to Antetokounmpo, CSKA answered through De Colo and Higgins, but the hosts stayed in front behind two more Calathes to Antetokounmpo alley-oops. Panathinaikos had a 16-10 lead, only for a triple from Rodriguez to cut the deficit to a single point, before Pappas and Calathes made it 20-15 after 10 minutes. The game continued at a slower tempo in the second quarter, with CSKA going inside to Hunter who scored 6 straight points to help the visitors to a 22-25 lead. Gist had a three-point play, before Hunter had a dunk on one side, and Antetokounmpo another alley-oop slam on the other, to knot it at 27-27. CSKA kept control with Rodriguez and Hunter, and went into halftime up 29-31.
The second half started in a totally opposite manner. After Rodriguez and Rivers traded triples, Hunter scored in traffic to make it 34-36. However, Rivers answered with a tough jumper, and Calathes hit a long triple. Antetokounmpo's dunk and a triple from Rivers opened a 46-36 lead. But Rodriguez hit a jumper and a triple to snap a 12-0 run, followed by Higgins and De Colo hitting a triple each, tying the game at 49-49. Before the end of the quarter Pappas made a tough runner, and Kyle Hines took it to the rim, to make it 51-51 after 30 minutes. CSKA regained the lead at the start of the fourth with a layup from Will Clyburn, before the teams started trading baskets, exchanging one-point leads. Pappas scored on consecutive possessions for Panathinaikos, but Clyburn and Rodriguez had immediate answers on the other end, giving CSKA a 58-59 lead. After Higgins and Pappas traded baskets, CSKA found a way to stop the hosts defensively, and out of it got a coast-to-coast basket from Higgins. Calathes hit a downtown dagger for the hosts, but De Colo answered right back with a three, and Higgins hit a wide-open triple to make it 63-71 with 2:59 to go. After a timeout, Rivers nailed another triple, and Pappas scored 3 of 3 free throws to make it 69-71 with exactly 2 minutes left on the clock. The score remained the same entering the final minute, when Rodriguez nailed a three-pointer as the shot-clock was expiring, giving CSKA enough breathing room to hold on for victory.
Friday, January 19, 2018