CSKA Moscow completes sweep of Crvena Zvezda to return to Final Four
CSKA Moscow is headed to its fifth straight Final Four and 13th in the last 14 years after holding off a late charge to defeat Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade 71-78 at Kombank Arena on Monday in Game 3 on the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Playoffs. CSKA swept the best-of-five series to secure its place in Berlin. Zvezda gave all it had in the fourth quarter in rallying from a 12-point deficit to get within 1 point with less than four minutes remaining, but threes on CSKA’s next three possessions by Nikita Kurbanov, Cory Higgins and Nando De Colo clinched the victory. De Colo finished with 20 points, while Milos Teodosic totaled 12 points and 7 assists and Kurbanov also scored 12. Quincy Miller led the hosts with 15 points, Vladimir Stimac added 12 and Nemanja Dangubic 11. The loss ended a historic season for Zvezda, which reached the Euroleague playoffs for the first time.
First quarter: Zvezda goes in front first
It took more than two minutes before a thunderous put-back dunk by Dangubic opened the scoring. The visitors failed to score on their first six trips down the floor, before Vitaly Fridzon made a pair of foul shots. A layup from Maik Zirbes and a fastbreak layup from Stefan Jovic made it 6-2, before De Colo drove to the hoop and scored CSKA’s first field goal of the night after nearly five minutes of play. Jovic fed Miller with a brilliant long pass for a big fastbreak slam. After a timeout, Cory Higgins sank a three for CSKA. After a jumper from Tarence Kinsey, a triple by Andrey Vorontsevich tied it at 10-10. A pair of free throws each from Stimac and Kinsey put the hosts back in front, and Stimac battled his way inside to make it 16-10. Teodosic ended Zvezda’s 6-0 spurt with foul shots, and more free throws came on both ends in the final 90 seconds – with Branko Lazic and Stimac knocking them down for the hosts, while Kyle Hines and De Colo scored for CSKA. De Colo hit a mid-range jumper, but Stimac’s last-second foul shot made it 21-18 at the end of the quarter.
Second quarter: De Colo gives CSKA slim halftime edge
De Colo drove for a layup, and Miller promptly replied with a jumper. Dangubic drove for a layup, but Demetris Nichols made a tough turnaround jumper to cut the deficit to 25-23. A fastbreak basket from Kurbanov two possessions later tied the game and led to a Zvezda timeout. Miller scored a three-point play, but De Colo nailed a jumper to become the first scorer in double digits on the night. After a CSKA timeout, Vorontsevich knocked down a three-pointer to give the visitors their first lead of the night, 28-30. Zirbes countered with a dunk, then fed Dangubic for a triple, as Zvezda restored a slim advantage, 33-32. Both teams went to the free throw line some more, but De Colo and Nichols on one end and Dangubic and Zirbes on the other all combined to hit 4 of 10 fouls shots. De Colo’s jumper changed the lead once again, setting the halftime score at 35-36.
Third quarter: Visitors heat up from deep to gain separation
Kinsey buried a three to start the second half, and the hosts kept CSKA scoreless until a dunk by Hines tied it at 38-38 after three minutes. Miller hit a jumper, but Kurbanov bettered it with a triple and added free throws to give the visitors a 40-43 edge. Kinsey drove baseline for a reverse layup, but Teodosic hit a three-pointer to open a 4-point margin. Micic made foul shots for Zvezda, however, Hines fought for a put-back and Aaron Jackson hit a triple in transition, prompting a Zvezda timeout. The hosts were held without a field goal for more than four minutes, as Teodosic hit his second three to open a 10-point margin. Stimac made 3 of 4 free throws for Zvezda, but Teodosic and Jackson set up a Vorontsevich layup, before Jackson nailed a step-back three over Jovic to make it 47-59 going into the fourth quarter.
Fourth quarter: Higgins and De Colo seal it
A layup from Stimac ended Zvezda’s drought of six minutes without a field goal, followed by Marko Simonovic racing for a fastbreak dunk to cut it to 51-59. After a CSKA timeout, Teodosic drove the lane for a layup, but Jovic put back his own miss and Simonovic scored from close range to gt the hosts within 5. De Colo answered with a basket inside, and a monster dunk by Kurbanov restored a double-digit leaf, 55-65. However, Zvezda was not giving up on its season. Zirbes inside, and Simonovic inside halved the deficit and forced a CSKA timeout. The hosts were not done. Miller went coast-to-coast for a three-point play, and after a jumper by Higgins, a three-pointer from Dangubic made it 66-67. Kurbanov gave CSKA breathing room with a triple, and after a put-back dunk from Miller, Higgins hit a three that gave CSKA a 68-73 cushion. After a timeout, a baseline triple from De Colo opened an 8-point lead. Jovic made a runner, but De Colo buried a jumper that sealed the deal.
Monday, April 18, 2016