CSKA's James pulls out thriller vs. Madrid
With two five-game winning streaks on the line, CSKA Moscow kept its own going strong with a thrilling 74-73 victory over visiting Real Madrid in the Russian capital on Thursday. CSKA raised its record to 8-3 to at least retain its share of second place while Real dropped to 6-5. Mike James fired in 28 points, including a spectacular game-stealing four-point play with 2.5 seconds left, to lead all scorers. Toko Shengelia added 15 points and Will Clyburn points for CSKA. Trey Thompkins led Real with 15 points while Gabriel Deck added 14, Anthony Randolph and Sergio Llull 13 each. Real led by 25-36 in the second quarter before a 10-0 run got CSKA close enough to eventually go ahead 58-55 after three. Real soon re-took the lead but back-to-back threes by James put the hosts up 68-64 with under 5 minutes left. Trey Thompkins drilled a triple with 24 seconds left for Real to seize a 70-71 advantage, but that merely set the stage for the game-winning heroics by James.
CSKA scored the first 6 points of the night with Nikola Milutinov and Shengelia working inside. Thompkins got the visitors going with a triple and a tip-in, before Alberto Abalde's floater during a 0-6 Real run helped make it 8-11. Shengelia answered hitting from long and close range, but Deck scored a pair of layups and a second triple by Thompkins made it 17-20 after 10 minutes. Sergio Llull and Anthony Randolph hit a three apiece to start the second quarter by opening up a 17-26 lead. Will Clyburn answered with a three of his own, before Randolph and Mike James traded triples. James and Llull exchanged floaters before the latter's second triple opened the first double-digit margin, 25-36. CSKA got the needed reply with a three from Clyburn and a reverse layup from James. Johannes Voigtmann had a put-back and a triple to cap a 10-0 run to cut the gap to a single point before a one-handed jam by Tavares made it 35-38 at halftime. Baskets by Milutinov and Shengelia let CSKA surge ahead 41-40 after halftime, but Randolph soon knocked down a triple put Real back in front 43-45. After a couple more lead changes, CSKA stepped up defensively before Clyburn and Milutinov made it 51-47. Abalde knocked down a second-chance triple, but James hit a jumper and a three-pointer, helping CSKA to a 58-55 lead going into the fourth quarter. Tavares scored twice inside early in the fourth, restoring a Real advantage at 60-61. James hit a triple, and after Llull answered in kind, another triple before downing a runner high off the glass to make it 68-64. A circus shot by James made it 70-66 with 3:30 to go, but a pair of free throws by Deck were the only points in the next 3 minutes, before Thompkins hit his three-pointer with 24 seconds to go, giving Real 70-71 lead. James missed his first try at the win, but Daniel Hackett's offense rebound gave him a second chance. Surrounded in the corner, he lifted up and swished the shot, getting fouled in the act for a four-point play with 2.5 seconds to go, giving CSKA a thrilling victory.
The only CSKA player who scored in the final 6 minutes and 15 seconds of the game was Mike James. He scored half of his game-high 28 points in that final stretch, with his four-point play with 2.5 seconds left proving just enough to avoid overtime.
Real had 18 assists compared to CSKA's 4, committed just 6 turnovers to 10 by CSKA, and registered 6 blocks to CSKA's 1. But the hosts outrebounded Real 44-34 with Nikola Milutinov and Will Clyburn pulling 9 each.
CSKA won despite dishing just 4 assists, tying a club-low in the EuroLeague this century which CSKA previously had in February 2002 against Skipper Bologna. Interestingly, last season in Moscow against Real, CSKA only had 6 assists, but also won that game.
Stars off the bench
Walter Tavares, who was the only Real player who started in each of the first 10 games this season, did not enter the game until the start of the second quarter and finished with 8 points and 10 rebounds. Mike James and Will Clyburn, in their usual role coming off the bench in the first quarter, gave CSKA a 44-26 advantage in reserve scoring.
Next week in Round 12 both teams will be at home. CSKA will welcome Olympiacos Piraeus on Thursday, while Real will host LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne on Friday.
Thursday, November 26, 2020