CSKA secures playoff spot by crushing Panathinaikos
CSKA Moscow booked its place in the playoffs in emphatic fashion by crushing out-of-form Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 66-97 on the road. The reigning champs used a free-scoring first quarter to establish a strong early advantage which rarely looked in danger, with CSKA leading in the teens for long periods before steadily extended the margin to cruise home without any trouble. Darrun Hilliard led the way with 21 points on 5-of-9 three-point shooting, while Mike James scored 18 against his former club. Kyle Hines combined 13 points and 8 rebounds, Howard Sant-Roos scored 11 and Johannes Voigtmann and Kosta Koufos both added 10. DeShaun Thomas paced the home team with 12 points, while Nick Calathes had 10 points and 7 assists. Panathinaikos has lost six of its last seven games to drop to 14-14, while CSKA advanced to 19-9 and can now focus on fighting for homecourt advantage.
Both offenses moved freely in the opening stages, with Voigtmann netting a pair of triples while Thomas scored twice from close range and Calathes recorded a three-pointer, a three-point play and 3 assists in the opening 5 minutes, which arrived with the game tied at 17-17. James netted a transition three and Voigtmann added an athletic layup as CSKA moved ahead, before Hines with a layup and James with a three-point play capped a 0-12 run for a 19-29 lead. Thomas ended that burst, but Hines made a battling layup-and-one to beat the buzzer as the first quarter ended 22-32. Four points from Ian Vougioukas pulled Panathinaikos back early in the second, but Hilliard and Daniel Hackett reasserted CSKA from deep, 26-40. Vougoiukas netted again and Andy Rautins struck from deep, but Hackett responded likewise. Calathes scored his second triple, helping make it 38-48 at the break.
James started the second half’s scoring with a step-back long two, and that was the only field goal in the opening 3 minutes. Hines scored underneath as the host continued to struggle and a James three-point play made it 39-55. Dinos Mitoglou got Panathinaikos moving with a layup-and-one, but Hines sank a long two as CSKA stayed strong. Hilliard added a quickfire pair of triples to stretch the lead before Tyrese Rice responded from deep to make it 51-65 after three quarters. Ioannis Papapetrou scored from long-range, but Nikita Kurbanov’s dunk and another Hilliard triple made it 54-76. Koufos slammed and added a layup before Sant-Roos threw down a dunk to extend the lead to 58-84 and Panathinaikos never looked like mounting a comeback. James teed up Koufos for an alley-oop before sinking a step-back three, taking the advantage beyond 30 points with 3 minutes to play and it stayed around that margin the rest of the way.
Hines shines in the early going
Kyle Hines enjoyed a magnificent first quarter to help his team into a dominant position. The veteran CSKA center played all 10 minutes and made all 3 of his two-point attempts, all 3 free throws, grabbed 5 rebounds, dished 3 assists and made 1 steal for a PIR of 19.
CSKA perfect from the foul line…nearly
One of the many things CSKA did well on the night was free-throw shooting. The Russian team was heading for a perfect night from the stripe until Ron Baker, who was cold after not playing in the opening 37 minutes, missed a foul shot with 1:55 remaining. CSKA finished 19 of 20 on free throws.
Calathes overtakes 3D
Panathinaikos playmaker Nick Calathes jumped into second place on the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague assists chart by recording 7 on the night. That took his career total to 1,260, moving past former teammate Dimitris Diamantidis (1,255). Calathes remains a long way behind leading assist-maker Vassilis Spanoulis (1,516) of Olympiacos Piraeus.
Greens struggle from deep again
After enduring a horrific 1-of-20 three-point shooting night in the Greek derby two nights early, Panathinaikos struggled from deep again. The home team made just 2 of its first 11 triples as CSKA moved into a double-digit lead and that set the tone for the remainder of the game as Panathinaikos finished with just 7 of 30 three-point conversions (23.3%).
CSKA heads home for Round 29, preparing to welcome ALBA Berlin to the Russian capital next Thursday. Panathinaikos heads on the road for a crunch clash at Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul on Friday.
Thursday, March 5, 2020