Khimki tops Caja Laboral on the road to bring two sides level in Group F
BC Khimki Moscow Region dealt Caja Laboral a second consecutive Top 16 defeat in a Friday night clash in Group F. Khimki won 71-83 in Vitoria, Spain, to match Caja Laboral for third place in the group at 4-2. Khimki pulled away late in the third quarter and held on down the stretch to preserve a tough win. Big man Paul Davis led the winners with 20 points and 5 rebounds. K.C. Rivers drained 5 of 7 three-pointers en route to 16 points, while Zoran Planinic tallied 13 points and 6 assists, Vitaly Fridzon netted 11 and Sergey Monya scored 10. For Caja Laboral, Fabien Causeur led the way with 15 points, followed by Maciej Lampe with 13, Nemanja Bjelica with 12 and veteran Andreas Nocioni with 11.
First quarter: Little separates the teams early
Caja Laboral opened up with a highlight, as great frontcourt passing resulted in a Lampe dunk. Khimki called an early timeout straight after, in order to break the momentum that was swinging in Laboral's favor. It did little to help, as Lampe immediately hit a three-pointer to show his outside skills. He was the player of the quarter, contributing 9 points and handing off 2 assists. A series of 3 consecutive turnovers from Khimki allowed Laboral to carve out a 5-point lead going into the final minute of the quarter, but the visiting side was clinical with its shots from inside –shooting with 62% accuracy. Petteri Koponen came on for Khimki and it was he who hit the buzzer-beating three-pointer that put his team 18-19 in front at the first break.
Second quarter: The action goes outside, but still no separating the teams
Nemanja Bjelica provided an immediate response on the restart for Laboral, putting in a triple that got his side back in front. Tibor Pleiss sent down a dunk that extended the lead before and Nocioni and Omar Cook went outside for an 8-point lead shortly after Khimki had hit a pair of free throws. Khimki kept competitive through its two standouts of the half; Rivers sank his second shot from beyond the arc and Davis gave him the assist, plus a two-pointer of his own. Davis took on the inexperienced Pleiss at every opportunity and, thanks to his three-point play, the Khimki big man was able to cancel out another Nocioni triple. Rivers then worked his magic again from outside, taking his personal tally into double digits and bringing Khimki within 35-34. The three-point shootout continued with Bjelica successful from the perimeter, and he wasn’t the only player finding form as the quarter went on: Causeur was hard to handle for Khimki and drew 5 fouls from the opposition before the end of the half. The game went into halftime with Laboral in front 45-43.
Third quarter: Turning point for Khimki comes from Nielsen and Koponen contributions
Rivers opened up the second half with a fourth three-pointer. When Matt Nielsen tricked his way inside, Khimki suddenly found itself 3 points ahead, prompting a timeout from a furious Coach Zan Tabak. The team talk failed to correct things, as Nielsen stuffed in another dunk. Milko Bjelica worked hard to bring Laboral back level, 52-52, until Khimki’s Vitaly Fridzon sent in a triple to re-establish an away lead. Things went further Khimki’s way with a Koponen three-pointer and Laboral getting into foul trouble, making it a difficult end to the quarter for the Spanish team. With its largest lead of the game so far, Khimki rounded out the quarter 56-62 in front and in a prime position going into the final quarter.
Fourth quarter: Khimki maintains the advantage to the final buzzer
Sergey Monya took the lead up to 9 with a big three-pointer and Khimki pulled to as much as 12 points in front in the early part of the quarter as Laboral cooled. Monya’s second triple helped Khimki further with four minutes remaining on the clock, and the road team looked the fresher of the two sides heading towards the final buzzer. However, Laboral wasn’t quite done yet, as evidenced when Causeur brought it back to a 5-point game with two minutes remaining. The hopes of victory for the home side were eventually ended by a Monya dunk off a slick backdoor pass and a clinical Planinic finger roll that gave Khimki the win. Planinic hit a three-pointer on the buzzer to add the exclamation mark, but the triumph was already in the bag for Khimki.
Friday, February 1, 2013