Gill's tip-in lifts Khimki past Unicaja at the buzzer!
After leading for just 20 seconds until then, Khimki Moscow Region used a tip-in at the buzzer by Anthony Gill to top visiting Unicaja Malaga 66-68 on Friday and strengthen its playoffs hopes in dramatic fashion. Khimki improved to 12-9 in seventh place, at least two victories ahead of any team that might steal its playoff spot, while Unicaja dropped to 8-13 with its fifth loss by two points, four of them coming in the last month. Alexey Shved led Khimki with 22 points, but when his 11th three-point miss bounced out with 2 seconds left, Gill was there to tip it in for what was his team's second lead, the first having lasted just one possession early in the second quarter. Otherwise, Unicaja controlled the scoreboard by as many as 10 points before Tyler Honeycutt took over late in the third quarter and helped Khimki tie early in the fourth. He finished with 11 points, all after the break, and 15 rebounds for the hosts. James Anderson scored 11, too, including 2 baskets in the final minute before the game-winner. Unicaja, playing without leading scorer Nemanja Nedovic and Jeff Brooks, got 16 points from Adam Waczynski and 10 from Ray McCallum but was unable to score again after being up 60-66 with 2 minutes remaining.
Sasu Salin blasted a triple for Unicaja and McCallum drove strong to make it 0-5. Shved's layup after 3 minutes finally got Khimki on the board. Dragan Milosavljevic waltzed to the basket and McCallum dropped a lane jumper as Unicaja went up 2-9. Shved got another pair of layups, but otherwise the defenses dominated. Shved was a one-man show now, hitting an off-balance baseline shot and free throw to tie, but Waczynski stuck a buzzer-beating jumper to keep Unicaja ahead 9-11 after 10 minutes. Salin started the second quarter as he had the first, from downtown, and when Giorgi Shermadini hit free throws, Unicaja led 9-16. Charles Jenkins answered with Khimki's first triple after 8 tries and added a layup, but 4 more perfect free throws by Shermadini kept Unicaja up 14-20. Stefan Markovic fed Malcolm Thomas for a dunk and Shved returned with a three-pointer before Sergey Monia gave Khimki its first lead at 21-20. Mo Soluade took it right back for Unicaja with an open triple then Shved drove to tie 23-23. Waczynski broke the tie and Carlos Suarez made 2 free throws for a four-point possession. Shved sped to another layup, but Suarez fed Waczynski and, after Soluade drove strong, converted a pass from James Augustine into a three-point play at 28-34. Salin's steal led Milosavljevic for a fastbreak and Soluade found Waczynski in the corner for three to put give Unicaja its biggest lead yet, 31-39, at the break.
Anderson got his first basket to start the second half and bettered it with a transition triple to make it 36-39. McCallum returned with a strong layup, but Anderson's free throws kept Khimki close, 38-41. Augustine fed Milosavljevic to beat the shot clock in close and beat it himself with a baseline jumper at 38-45. Monia answered for Khimki and then fed Shved for his first basket of the second half, but a second-chance triple by Salin and McCallum's steal and layup gave Unicaja its biggest lead yet, 42-52. Honeycutt struck for Khimki with a corner triple, and a couple minutes later buried free throws at 47-53. McCallum beat the Khimki defense for a layup and Jenkins hit free throws to leave a 49-55 score after 30 minutes. Thomas dropped a hook shot to open the fourth quarter, then Honeycutt took his own block the other way for a dunk and put back a miss to tie it up 55-55. Khimki's defense held Unicaja scoreless through more than 4 minutes until Waczynski hit free throws to break the tie. Gill spun for a layup to tie, but Augustine reappeared with a reverse and a lob layup, then Waczynski hit a baseline jumper at 57-63 as Unicaja matched Khimki's 8-0 run. After missing 2 free throws, leading to Shved finally connecting on another triple, McCallum fed Waczynski for his own three-pointer to make it 60-66. Honeycutt levitated for an offensive rebound and put-back before Anderson hit a floater to get Khimki within a possession, 64-66, going into the final minute. Honeycutt's block set up Anderson's game-tying layup with 40 seconds left. After Waczynski missed from deep and Unicaja spent its last foul, Khimki had 8.5 seconds left to win. Shved measured off a three-pointer from the top with 4 seconds left, leaving time when it missed for Gill to rise above and tip it down for a dramatic and possibly decisive home win for Khimki.
Friday, February 2, 2018