With its famed defense taking over when needed most, defending champion CSKA started Group E of the Top 16 the right way, downing dangerous DKV Joventut 81-69 in the Russian capital on Wednesday. CSKA is now 1-0 in the new round, but runs its win streak including regular season games to 13. Meanwhile, Joventut dropped to 0-1 despite reaching halftime tied and having scored more points in consecutive quarters against CSKA than any other team this Euroleague season. Matjaz Smodis led the winners with 24 points on 9-for-11 two-point shooting. Trajan Langdon added 13 while Theo Papaloukas had 11, 6 assists and 5 steals for CSKA. Rudy Fernandez had 20 points for Joventut, Lubos Barton added 14 before leaving the game with a shoulder problem and Robert Archibald scored 11. Joventut had a strong start and led 10-16 midway through the opening period. Smodis and Papaloukas revived CSKA, but Fernandez and Barton fueled a 0-8 run that tied it, 45-45, at halftime. CSKA took over on defense after the break, allowing just 6 points to Joventut in the next 13 minutes. During that span, Langdon, Papaloukas and Smodis led a game-breaking 28-6 run that sealed the outcome long before the final buzzer.
Smodis needed just 17 seconds to find a basket-plus-free throw to get CSKA started in the Top 16. Charles Gaines did the same for Joventut with a put-back layup, then added a jump hook for a 3-4 visitors' edge. Nikita Kourbanov answered from downtown for CSKA but Fernandez banked in a seven-meter triple for his first points. He then fed Drew Nicholas for an alley-oop layup and a 6-9 lead. Trajan Langdon scored in penetration for CSKA, but Fernandez rose up on the other end for a swinging alley-oop dunk. After CSKA center Aleksey Savrasenko and Sullivan traded baskets, Fernandez was back to bury a running triple, forcing CSKA to call timeout at 10-16. It was Papaloukas time. The hosts started to run their offense through last year's Final Four MVP, who responded with a three-point play and a driving layup in a 8-0 CSKA run that gave his team a 18-16 edge. Andy Betts shined with a left-handed jump hook while Lubos Barton fired from downtown to put Joventut back ahead, 18-21. J.R. Holden hit free throws while Barton and Andersen traded baskets to fix the score at 22-23 after 10 minutes.
Gaines beat the shot-clock buzzer with a layup to open the second quarter, but Andersen matched him for CSKA with a turnaround jumper. Anton Ponkrashov added a driving layup, and even though the hosts entered the foul bonus with 7 minutes to go, CSKA was ready to launch. Newly signed swingman Oscar Torres came off the bench and immediately put in an offensive rebound. CSKA kept improving on defense, while Langdon buried a triple and Smodis scored off a Joventut timeout to finished a 9-0 CSKA run with a 33-25 lead on the board. Fernandez rescued Joventut with free throws and Sullivan fired in a three-pointer while Robert Archibald brought the guests within 35-32. Smodis shined with a long two-pointer and Papaloukas added free throws but Ricky Rubio fired in a triple from the arc to keep Joventut close at 39-35. Andersen fed Smodis for an easy basket but Rubio shined now with an outstanding reverse layup. Smodis hit free throws and Andersen scored inside but Fernandez had 5 points in a 0-8 finishing run for Joventut that Barton capped with a buzzer-beating triple for a 45-45 tie at the break.
CSKA locked in its well-known defense after the break and found a go-to guy in Smodis, who scored twice in the paint for a quick 49-45 edge. Joventut went scoreless for more than 4 minutes while Langdon buried a three-pointer that capped a 7-0 run and gave CSKA a 52-45 lead. Joventut opted then to attack the basket, but couldn't resume scoring until Barton fired in a corner three-pointer, but Langdon answered the same way to keep CSKA ahead, 55-48. Joventut had committed 7 turnovers in as many minutes and had already entered the foul bonus. CSKA made the most out of it, as Langdon made free throws and Papaloukas added an easy driving layup for a 11-point lead, 59-48. Joventut could not beat CSKA's defense while Thomas Van den Spiegel dunked on an assist by Papaloukas to make the guests call timeout at 61-48. Smodis scored in penetration, as Joventut tried a zone defense, but Papaloukas beat it with an easy layup to give CSKA a 65-51 lead at the end of a third quarter in which the hosts only allowed 6 points.
Holden nailed a shot from downtown and Smodis powered in layup to boost CSKA ahead by 19 points, 70-51, to start the fourth quarter. CSKA kept its momentum with outstanding defense, and Smodis hit his trademark triple from the top, good for a 73-51 margin with 8 minutes to go. Barton nailed a corner triple for Joventut, but Torres answered from downtown, his first triple of the competition. Gaines shined with a put-back dunk, as now that the outcome was clear, Joventut fought to limit the point difference should it be useful later in the round. Barton left the game with a shoulder problem midway through the final period, before Holden beat the guests' zone defense with a three-pointer for a 23-point CSKA lead, 79-56. Archibald and Fernandez fueled a 0-9 run that brought Joventut closer, 79-65, with 2 minutes to go. But little else changed in the closing minutes, as CSKA cruised to a convincing home win.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007