| One new Euroleague team put a foot in the Top 16 and another was eliminated from that possibility on Wednesday as Khimki Moscow Region used near-record defense to stop hosts EWE Baskets 49-62 on the road in Oldenburg, Germany. The victory raised Khimki's record to 5-3 in Group D, which will be mathematically good enough to reach the Top 16 if Armani Jeans Milano (2-5) loses against visiting Asseco Prokom (3-4) on Thursday. Regardless, Khimki will hold third place after its defense tied the second-fewest points allowed by a road team all decade in the Euroleague. The record, set earlier this season by Montepaschi against Cibona, is 40 points. Khimki used an 11-0 run on either side of halftime to break open a close game. Keith Langford led the winners in scoring with 19 points, while Robertas Javtokas followed with a double-double of 11 points, 10 rebounds. The defense of another center, Timofey Mozgov, was decisive during the game's transition run. Jasmin Perkovic was the only persistent scoring threat for Oldenburg, and finished with 18 points. Ruben Boumtje Boumtje and Marko Scekic added 9 each. Just as Khimki
Raul Lopez set up Langford in the corner for the game's first basket, a triple. Khimki's defense starred early as Mozgov erased a dunk try by Boumtje Boumtje and soon Kelly McCarty was off to the races for a fastbreak layup at 0-5. Perkovic finally scored inside to start Oldenburg's scoreboard, and the hosts' defense stepped up now, even when Khimki got double possessions on offensive rebounds. Oldenburg went inside again to Perkovic for a bank shot, then after a timeout, Khimki went inside-out, from Mozgov to McCarty, for another corner three-pointer at 4-8. Perkovic stayed strong in the paint for the hosts until Boumtje Boumtje joined him with a jumper to tie at 8-8, then registered his own big block at the other end. Oldenburg got worried when Ricky Paulding limped off after missing a dunk, but he returned later. Meanwhile, Khimki's offensive rebounding continued, allowing Langford to blast in for a layup. Next, he stopped in the lane for a jump hook and went to the foul line to finish a strong 10th minute with his team in charge, 8-14, after one quarter.
Bryan Bailey put himself in the Oldenburg scoring column to start the second quarter, and was soon joined by Scekic, who also found inside room to shoot, as the hosts pulled within 12-15. After Josh Carter got Oldenburg even closer, Khimki coach Sergio Scariolo took a timeout to order the ball inside, where Javtokas scored 3 points in a pair of possessions. That, in turn, loosened Oldenburg's defense enough for Fedor Dimitriev to drop a jumper to put Khimki up 16-20. An Oldenburg timeout was followed by Perkovic putting back an offensive rebound. Vitaly Fridzon got two shots back at the free throw line, but Jason Gardner answered with a triple from the corner and Carter got 3 points the hard way to make it 21-22. Khimki put the ball back in the hands of Langford for free throws, but now Perkovic answered from the top of the circle for a 24-24 tie. Khimki found Mozgov for a go-ahead layup that Perkovic matched with free throws. In the half's final minute, Lopez took advantage of another offensive rebound to drill a triple to which Fridzon added free throws as Khimki moved ahead 26-31 at the break.
Khimki kept its momentum going into the third quarter with dunks by Paulius Jankunas and Mozgov around a power drive by Langford. That boosted the visitors' run to 0-11 and its lead into double-digits, 26-37, while Oldenburg took a timeout to talk about it. The hosts found their offense when Gardner dished to Boumtje Boumtje for a slam. Mozgov registered his second block of the quarter before Jankunas restored the double digit lead, 28-39, with a baseline drive. After Perkovic scored with a nifty basket inside, Mozgov did it again with defense, stealing and going the length of the court for a layup at 30-41. Scoring stalled again until Boumtje Boumtje made 1 of 2 free throws, but Langford and Gardner made both of theirs. Langford was still unstoppable, however, and he drove left and then hit a bank shot as Khimki pushed to a comfortable 35-49 lead after three quarters.
Boumtje Boumtje seemed to have gotten Oldenburg going the right way with a short jumper to start the fourth quarter, but the hosts stalled there. In the meantime, Carlos Cabezas found Javtokas for a pair of wide-open inside layups before he went coast-to-coast himself to fully silence the Oldenburg crowd as it pondered a 37-55 scoreboard with 5 minutes left. Khimki's defense did not let up, while the Cabezas-Javtokas connection kept working to perfection, in this case a flying jam that left no doubt about the direction these two Euroelague newcomers were headed. Khimki was all but in the Top 16 already, while Oldenburg fans would most likely have to be satisfied with just one more Euroleague home game.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009