Lokomotiv rallies past Cedevita late
In a game of wild swings, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar soared last to beat Cedevita Zagreb 81-85 on Wednesday at Dom Sportova Zagreb. The win kept Lokomotiv undefeated through four games to lead Group B, while dropping Cedevita to third place at 2-2. After the visitors thoroughly dominated the first half through Dmitry Kulagin to lead by as many as 24 before settling for a 14-point lead at the break, the hosts came alive in the third quarter to hold Lokomotiv to just 9 points. Cedevita led by as many as 9 in the fourth, however Mateusz Ponitka ignited a 2-17 Lokomotiv charge to claim the win.
Kulagin paced the winners with 25 points, Jamel McLean posted 14 and Ponitka 10. Josh Magette led Cedevita with 16 points and 6 assists, Vitor Benite scored 15, Elgin Cook amassed 14 points and 8 rebounds, James Bell added 12 points and Pablo Aguilar 10.
Kulagin was red-hot early with all his team's points in the first five minutes; Kulagin's second triple gave Lokomotiv a 10-12 lead midway through the opening quarter. Isaiah Whitehead stretched the margin to 15-23 with a jumper before the hosts called timeout. McLean's basket-plus-foul made it 20-29 after 10 minutes. A fade-away jumper by Kulagin gave the visitors their first double-digit lead early in the second quarter. Cedevita did not find the bottom of the net for the first four minutes of the second quarter, by which time Lokomotiv led 20-38. The margin touched 24 before Cedevita heated up and through threes by Bell and Benite closed the gap to 37-51 at the half. Benite started the second half with another three-pointer as Cedevita regained confidence. Cook played a big role at both ends and a Magette triple closed the gap to 3. Back-to-back threes by Cook and Magette gave Cedevita its first lead since the opening minutes, 63-60, through three quarters. Pablo Aguilar drained a pair of threes and Magette hit another that made it 76-67 early in the fourth quarter. Ponitka connected twice from downtown to revive the visitors and a series of free throws by Kulagin and McLean turned it into a game-clinching 2-17 run that was too much for Cedevita to overcome.
Though it seemed that Lokomotiv's dominant first quarter or Cedevita's rocking third were each enough to decide the game at the time, in the end it was the 2-17 charge the visitors put together in the fourth. After Magette's three-pointer put the hosts ahead 76-67, Ponitka drained back-to-back three-pointers to ignite Lokomotiv. McLean, Kulagin and Ponitka added free throws during the charge, in which Cedevita was held to 1-for 9-shooting and 3 turnovers in a five-minute span.
A dubious distinction
Wednesday night marked the 95th game Lokomotiv has played in the EuroCup and its 23 turnovers were the most it had ever committed. The fact that it was able to do that and win speaks volumes of the talent this Loko side possesses.
A blistering start
Midway through the second quarter, Dmitriy Kulagin was on a pace worthy of the game's all-time greats. Lokomotiv led 22-44 and Kulagin had one point less than the entire Cedevita squad. Till that point, he had made 5 of 6 two-pointers and 3 of 4 from behind the arc. Once he cooled down, Kulagin could not get back on that pace, though his 25 points in the end marked the second-most he has ever netter in a EuroCup game.
Lokomotiv returns home in Round 5, where it will put its perfect record on the line against ALBA Berlin on Wednesday. Cedevita travels to Turkey for a date with Tofas Bursa.
Wednesday, October 24, 2018