Khimki Moscow Region reached the midway point of its first Euroleague regular season in first place after dominating on the boards and from the arc to overwhelm visiting Asseco Prokom Gdynia 89-67 in the Russian capital on Wednesday. Khimki improved to 4-1 in Group C, where it had entered Week 5 sharing first place with champions Panathinaikos and Real Madrid. Prokom dropped to 1-4 because it could not stop the Khimki marksmen, who drilled 14 of 26 three-point shots on the night. Kelly McCarty led the winners with 22 points and was one of five Khimki players with 5 boards, as the hosts outrebounded Prokom 37-24. Keith Langford hit 11 of 12 free throws on his way to 20 points and dished 9 assists. Carlos Cabezas shook off a second-half finger injury to finish with 19 points. He and Petr Gubanov put the game out of reach with 2 three-pointers each in the fourth quarter. For Prokom, big man Pape Sow scored 18 points thanks largely to his 12-for-13 performance at the foul line. David Logan added 13, Ronnie Burrell and Qyntel Woods 11 each, but despite being within 7 points midway through the third quarter, Prokom had no offensive answers for long stretches against Khimki's full-metal defense.
Defenses concentrated on shutting down the lane early, but three-point shooters got some good looks and knocked them down. Paulius Jankunas and McCarty hit from long-range as the hosts went up 8-3, with only Logan's triple countiing until then for Prokom. Burrell scored from just inside the arc for the guests, but McCarty basket-plus-free throw made it 11-5 and Robertas Javtokas stopped all comers on the defensive end. Prokom left McCarty open on the corner and paid in the form of a 14-7 deficit. Logan got Prokom's first driving basket then, after a timeout, fed Burrell in the post to make it 14-11. But Khimki continued busting the zone as Jankunas now buried 3 points from the wing. Woods hit a pretty shot in the paint, then Lukasz Seweryn joined Prokom's triple-makers for a 17-16 score. Timofey Mozgov scored from the top on an advantageous bounce, but Woods pumped in a shot from the arc for a 19-19 tie. There were only seconds left, but those were plenty for another three-point shooter, Vitaly Fridzon, to hit from downtown and keep Khimki up, 22-20, after 10 minutes.
Prokom's confidence showed as Woods drove again for a basket and Logan busted a triple to shoot the guests ahead 22-25. Mozgov started Khimki's reaction, scoring inside, before Cabezas re-took the lead with a triple at 22-27. The hosts kept outhustling Prokom now, with Fridzon rebounding a miss and finding McCarty for a baseline dunk. When Cabezas added 2 free throws, Khimki had a 9-0 run and a 31-27 edge. A steal by Logan, who passed to Junior Harrington for a layup, ended Prokom's slide. Mozgov's big block denied Logan his own layup, but Prokom got Sow to the line anyway for game-tying free throws at 31-31. McCarty swatted way a shot by Woods that Cabezas took the other way for a three-point fast-break-plus-free throw to make it 34-31. Langford joined Khimki's scorers now, hitting 4 of 4 from the line before an acrobatic layup to make it 40-31 and prompt a Prokom timeout. The visitors ended Khimki's 9-0 run with a three-point connection in the lane from Woods to Burrell. Javtokas just beat the Prokom zone and the shot-clock with a hook, but Jan Jagla matched it with a put-back. After Langford dropped 2 free throws, Khimki's lead stood at 44-36 at halftime.
After missing his first try, Jankunas pumped Khimki's lead into double digits with a triple to start the second-half scoring. It lasted only until Sow scored falling down and added a free throw, but Cabezas came back from a timeout with a three-pointer and Langford made 2 intentional free throws at 52-39. After Cabezas left with an injured finger, Sow hit more free throws, but otherwise the scoring stalled for both sides. Minutes passed before Sow got back to the line to make 2 of 2, then blocked Langford in transition and scored inside to make it 52-45. Finally, Fridzon answered for the hosts, and soon McCarty followed with a basket in close and then a triple over the zone on a nice pass by Gubanov as Khimki's defense proved the star of a 61-48 scoreboard after three quarters.
Khimki smelled blood, and with Cabezas back on the floor, acted quickly to sentence the game early in the final quarter. Langford found Gubanov for one three-point shot to start the quarter and Cabezas, bad finger and all, hit the next to make it 67-48 and force a Prokom timeout. Sow's free throws gave him most of Prokom's points over the previous 10 minutes until Burrell took off with a steal to slam at 67-52. Another Khimki player, Jankunas, limped off injured, but the hosts added to their lead with foul shots by Langford, while Sow kept getting to the line for Prokom. Logan finally hit a long-awaited triple for Prokom, but Langford ended the visitors' hopes by picking up a loose ball and hitting one-hand floater in the lane. When Gubanov and Cabezas stuck their second triples each in the quarter, the hosts were up 79-59 with under 4 minutes left and not about to give up their of first place in Group D.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009