CSKA Moscow beats Baskonia to clinch playoff spot
CSKA Moscow turned up the heat on defense in the fourth quarter to register a come-from-behind 93-86 victory over Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz on Thursday at Megasport Arena, which made the hosts the first team in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague to clinch a playoff spot this season. The win lifted CSKA’s league-best record to 18-5, while ninth-placed Baskonia slipped to 10-13. Baskonia led for much of the game, but CSKA tied the score at 71-71 through three quarters and opened the fourth on a 12-2 tear. Cory Higgins shined with 10 fourth-quarter points as CSKA went on to lead by as many as 15 and held on for the victory. Will Clyburn led the winners with 19 points, Sergio Rodriguez scored 17, Higgins finished with 14, Nikita Kurbanov added 11 and Nando De Colo, who received his January MVP in a pre-game ceremony, dished 7 assists. Jayson Granger scored 26 points on 6-of-7 three-point shooting for Baskonia, Toko Shengelia posted 12 points and 10 rebounds, Rodrigue Beaubois also scored 12 and Matt Janning and Vincent Poirier netted 10 apiece.
Granger buried a pair of three-pointers and Janning had another as Baskonia jumped out to a 6-11 start. After a CSKA timeout, Semen Antonov sank a three for CSKA, but Granger’s third of the game followed by Shengelia’s long pass for a Patricio Garino layup-plus-foul extended the margin. Beaubois came off the bench to cap a 0-8 run and make it a double-digit lead, 11-21. Kyle Hines and Clyburn quickly halved the deficit before the latter’s steal led to an Andrey Vorontsevich slam, which closed the gap to 18-21. Beaubois sank a triple and split free throws to give the visitors a 20-25 edge after 10 minutes. Victor Khrypa’s three from the corner drew CSKA within 2, but Johannes Voigtmann and Beaubois heated up to keep Baskonia in control. Andrey Vorontsevich and Granger traded threes to make it 34-39 midway through the second quarter. Rodriguez scored on back-to-back possessions to start an 8-0 CSKA run that Kurbanov capped with free throws to give CSKA its first lead since the opening minute, 42-41. Shengelia responded with his first points off a baseline spin move and Luca Vildoza connected from downtown which helped Baskonia take a 46-49 lead into halftime.
Kurbanov tied the game with a three to start the second half and remained hot to push the hosts in front, 53-51. Granger hit back with his fifth three-pointer, which sparked a 0-7 Baskonia spurt, but a Clyburn triple evened the score at 58-58. Poirier stepped up for the visitors, but a Clyburn triple edged CSKA back in front. The lead changed hands several times and was tied at 71-71 at the end of the third quarter after Vorontsevich split free throws. Higgins sank a foul-line jumper to nose CSKA ahead after which turnovers on both ends kept the scoreboard frozen. Rodriguez stepped up with a pull-up triple and Hines added free throws to cap a 7-0 CSKA start to the fourth quarter. Janning fouled out with 6:31 remaining and buckets by De Colo and Higgins stretched the lead to double figures, 83-73. Despite the best efforts of Shengelia, Baskonia struggled down the stretch and CSKA continued to pepper the nets through Higgins and Clyburn. Six straight points by Baskonia made it a 6-point game in the final minute, but the outcome was no longer in doubt.
Thursday, February 22, 2018