CSKA outlasts Zalgiris 79-84 in Kaunas
After winning by double-digits for most of the first 25 minutes, CSKA Moscow needed a late comeback to escape with a 79-84 victory against host Zalgiris Kaunas on Friday. CSKA improved to 12-4 and ended a three-game road losing streak. Zalgiris fell to 7-9. Will Clyburn scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half and Daniel Hackett matched his total for the winners. Nando De Colo added 13 points and Cory Higgins 11 for CSKA. Brandon Davies led Zalgiris with 21 points, while Marius Grigonis downed 13 and Derrick Walton Jr. had 10. Hackett's 5 consecutive points in the last 2 minutes made the difference after CSKA had trailed by 6 points, 63-57, early in the final quarter.
Second-chance triples by Higgins and Sergio Rodriguez sent CSKA in front 4-10. Free throws drew Zalgiris within a point before Andrey Vorontsevich, De Colo and Hackett, twice, hit from deep, as well. Even though Davies broke the spell with a couple of baskets for Zalgiris, CSKA owned a 17-28 advantage after 10 minutes. CSKA's defense remained stingy as Clyburn and Othello Hunter joined the scoring before Rodriguez's three-point play made it 22-35. Nate Wolters, Laurynas Birutis and Edgaras Ulanovas helped Zalgiris get back to within 32-40, but CSKA stayed strong to reclaim a double-digit lead, 34-44, at the break. The teams continued trading points slowly after halftime until an Arturas Milaknis triple – his team's first of the game – got Zalgiris within 43-48. Walton and Grigonis followed suit to make it 51-52 before Davies converted a three-point play for the home team's first lead of the game. Grigonis lifted the roof off Zalgirio Arena with another triple and Walton hit 2 of 3 free throws before the buzzer for a 59-55 Zalgiris lead after a 21-7 run to end the third quarter. Another three-point play by Davies upped the difference to 63-57 early in the final quarter. That's when Clyburn came alive with 4 points and Higgins drilled from deep to make it 65-64. Clyburn was back with a reverse dunk that Hackett followed with free throws for a 69-69 tie, but Grigonis answered from deep. Free throws left Zalgiris in front by a point until Clyburn fed Hackett for a triple at 74-76 with 1:15 left to play. Higgins made 1 of 2 free throws entering the final minute. Walton found Aaron White for a dunk at 76-77 with 36.5 seconds left. Hackett appeared again for a step-back jumper with 15 second left. Davies and Clyburn made 1 free throw each, but down 77-80, Zalgiris needed a three-pointer to force overtime and never got that chance due to fouls.
CSKA ends road losing streak
The visitors had lost their last three and four of the previous five road games coming into the game and looked in trouble down 6 early in the final quarter. CSKA had also lost its last two trips to Kaunas, not to mention last season's third-place game in Belgrade. This victory, however, gave CSKA a season sweep and a 3-20 record all told against Zalgiris this century in the EuroLeague.
CSKA went 6-for-6 on three-pointers in the first quarter – with five different players hitting their first shots – but, inexplicably, its shooters missed their next 18 attempts from downtown before Clyburn ended the drought with 5 minutes left and then fed Hackett for the game-changing triple with 1:15 to play.
Zalgiris had its best night this century at the free throw line, making 38 of 43 attempts, let by Edgaras Ulanovas going 9 for 10. On April 8, 2004, Zalgiris also made 38, but missed 11 shots, in its infamous overtime loss to eventual champion Maccabi Tel Aviv that year. Its 38 made free throws on Friday were the most by any EuroLeague team in almost 12 years, since Panathinaikos Athens did the same on May 6, 2007. The record of 42 belongs to Panathinaikos, too.
Moving up the charts
Kyle Hines had a blocked shot to break his tie with Ioannis Bourousis for third place all time in the EuroLeague. He now has 195 blocks for his career. Bryant Dunston of Anadolu Efes Istanbul is second with 207 and counting.
CSKA stays on the road in Round 17 to open a double-round week against host Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul on Wednesday. Zalgiris, meanwhile, stays at home to start the week on Tuesday against another Istanbul team, Anadolu Efes.
Friday, January 4, 2019