A second defensive clinic in as many games led CSKA Moscow to a convincing 77-50 win over Partizan Belgrade on Tuesday and a 2-0 lead in their best-of-five Quarterfinal Playoffs series. After two games in the Russian capital, the series heads to Serbia next week where CSKA can close it out and advance to its seventh consecutive Final Four with one more win. CSKA never trailed, pulling away early and relying on its defense to coast to the win. After a Uros Tripkovic triple made it 8-5 in the opening minutes, CSKA went on a 22-3 tear to take control for good. The hosts led 43-22 at halftime and scored the first 10 points of the second half to erase any doubts. The lead peaked at 33 before Stephane Lasme tried to ignite a Partizan comeback. But that wasn’t in the cards as the champs continued to dominate the rest of the way, never letting Partizan closer than 20 in the second half. Erazem Lorbek paced the winners with 21 points and 7 rebounds. Ramunas Siskauskas and Terence Morris added 11 points each and Nikos Zisis scored 10 for the winners, who outrebounded Partizan 40-25. Lasme led the Serbian champs with 15 points. He was one of three Partizan players that fouled out.
CSKA won the opening tip and went inside, drawing a quick foul from Partizan’s top shot-blocking threat, Lasme, who started in place of center Slavko Vranes. Lorbek put the hosts on the scoreboard, before Lasme fed a cutting Jan Vesely for a dunk and Partizan’s first points. Matjaz Smodis drained a three and Viktor Khryapa and Lorbek added free throws as the champs showed patience on offense and an aggressive temperament on defense that stifled Partizan. Tripkovic came off the bench to drill a three-pointer for the visitors, however a defensive lapse allowed Lorbek an uncontested slam at the other end. Siskauskas started to heat up with a three-point play and a jumper to give CSKA a 15-5 lead. A Tripkovic free throw ended a 9-0 CKSA charge, but Morris completed a rare four-point play and gave the hosts a 21-6 lead after 10 minutes.
Milenko Tepic penetrated to start the second quarter in promising fashion, but a technical foul on the visiting bench allowed Siskauskas to add 2 free throws and Zisis to stretch the lead to 17 with a jumper. Zoran Planinic fed Lorbek for a slam and Morris hit his second three – already matching his team’s total from Game 1 – as CSKA took total control of the game, 30-8. Zarko Rakocevic showed signs of life for Partizan with a pair of baskets and Lasme added another bucket and later 2 free throws to complete a 0-8 Partizan push. Trajan Langdon got a friendly roll and Lorbek scored over Vranes to reassert the hosts’ dominance. Lasme attacked the rim for a vicious slam and foul, however the momentum switched hands when head coach Dusko Vujosevic was slapped with a technical foul and Siskauskas nailed 2 free throws. Zisis flew in for a layup and later added free throws to increase the gap to 20. A pair of Smodis free throws and 1 from Vesely made it 43-22 at the half.
A combination of strong defense and poor shooting produced a slow start to the third quarter, with the first field goal coming only after three-and-a-half minutes when Lorbek made a long jumper. A second Lorbek three and 4 Khryapa free throws capped a 10-0 run that put the champs up 31. Tripkovic ended Partizan’s drought, but CSKA continued to get to the line and score. Strahinja Milosevic and Vranes scored for the visitors only for Planinic’s three to keep CSKA ahead by more than 30. Tripkovic became the first Partizan player to foul out. Threes by Tepic and Lasme only narrowed the gap to 61-34 after three quarters.
Lasme led Partizan on a last-effort run to save the game and his three brought the visitors within 20, 61-41. Langdon answered with a jumper before Partizan used a timeout to plan one last attack. CSKA restored a 25-point gap when Zisis scored on the break and then added a basket on the offensive glass. Lasme fouled out with five-minutes to go, signaling the end for Partizan. Both teams emptied their benches in the final minutes with a steal and three by Cedomir Vitkovac in the closing seconds that denied CSKA another defensive record the only highlight in the end.
Thursday, March 26, 2009