CSKA nabs 10th straight win
In an all-Russian showdown, CSKA Moscow confirmed its outstanding form by downing Zenit St Petersburg 83-65 at home in Megasport Arena on Friday. CSKA improved 12-3 with its 10th consecutive win. CSKA had not won 10 consecutive games in the same season since the 2014-15 campaign. Zenit dropped to 8-5 and is now 6-2 on the road. Mike James paced the winners with 20 points. Nikola Milutinov and Darrun Hilliard each added 13, Will Clyburn got 11 and Toko Shengelia 10 for CSKA. Milutinov added 13 rebounds for a double-double. Kevin Pangos led Zenit with 14 points. KC Rivers and Alex Poythress each added 12 while Will Thomas got 11 for the guests.CSKA led 24-17 after 10 minutes, boosting its margin to 45-31 at halftime and then again to 66-49 at the end of the third quarter to seal the outcome long before the final buzzer.
James and Hilliard got CSKA going but Thomas followed a jumper with a three-pointer for a 4-5 Zenit lead. Hilliard scored in penetration and struck from downtown in a 7-0 run that James capped with a layup. Mateusz Ponitka scored off a Zenit timeout and Pangos added a triple and a jumper to keep the guests within 15-12. James struck from way beyond the arc, getting help from Hilliard to restore a 21-14 CSKA lead. Pangos and Clyburn exchanged three-pointers to fix the score at 24-17 after 10 minutes. Rivers followed a floater with a triple early in the second quarter. Hilliard and a red-hot Rivers traded jumpers, then Janis Strelnieks buried a three-pointer for a 29-24 CSKA lead. Billy Baron found his first points and fed Poythress for a huge dunk. Clyburn and Nikita Kurbanov each hit triples and Milutinov buried a jumper to give CSKA fresh air at 37-30. Kurbanov and Shengelia stepped up for CSKA and James beat the halftime buzzer with a triple that boosted CSKA's margin to 45-31. Thomas and James traded layups right after the break, then Rivers sank a three-pointer at 47-36. Pangos took over with a driving layup and Poythress scored three times around the basket but James and Shengelia kept CSKA in charge, 55-44. Johannes Voigtmann and Clyburn buried one triple apiece to break the game open, 61-44. Shengelia joined the three-point shootout but Baron brought Zenit a bit closer, 66-49, after 30 minutes. Voigtmann bettered Arturas Gudaitis's layup with a three-pointer early in the fourth quarter. Kurbanov soon added a layup that made it a 20-point game, 71-51. Andrey Zubkov followed a triple with a fastbreak layup but Shengelia and James gave Zenit no chance at 75-56. James found Milutinov for a dunk that sealed the outcome, 77-56, as Zenit did not recover in the final 4 minutes.
He has been on fire in recent weeks and CSKA's game against Zenit was no exception. James had yet another outstanding performance, finishing the game with 20 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, 2 steals and 6 fouls drawn for a PIR of 32.
A tip-in by Poythress brought Zenit as close as 32-30. It didn't last long, however, as Kurbanov and Milutinov ignited a 13-1 run that James capped with a spectacular stop-and-pop triple at the halftime buzzer. CSKA reached the break with a 45-31 lead and never looked back.
CSKA only allowed Zenit to pull down 3 offensive rebounds, a new club low. Zenit had always grabbed at least 6 offensive rebounds in any previous EuroLeague game. That allowed CSKA to outrebound its opponent by 34-25.
Did you know?
CSKA remains undefeated against Zenit in Europe's top competition. CSKA had previously beaten Zenit twice last season, by 70-87 on the road Sibur Arena behind 16 points from James and 14 from Voigtmann; and again at home by 86-78 as James and Voigtmann led the way again with 27 and 13 points, respectively.
Both teams return to EuroLeague next Tuesday, December 22. CSKA visits LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne at the Astroballe. Zenit hosts Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade as Baron and Rivers face their former team.
Friday, December 18, 2020