Taking care of the basketball and forcing opponents into committing turnovers usually leads to victories. Especially if that ratio is 17-to-5. So, it needs some explanation just how Khimki Moscow Region had 17 turnovers on Tuesday night while Panathinaikos OPAP Athens committed just 5, yet it was Khimki that won the game by 17 points. Khimki had 11 turnovers in the second half, and Panathinaikos just 3, yet Khimki outscored the visitors 53-31 after the break.
For one thing, it started with rebounding. Khimki had a massive 45-23 rebounding advantage against the Greens, which leveled things up. Even with Khimki making 12 more turnovers, all Panathinaikos could show for it was 2 extra field goal attempts and 7 more free throw attempts. In a fast-paced, high-scoring affair, Khimki's offense fueled by Alexey Shved and Janis Timma was far more efficient in making those shot-attempts count.
In addition, the Khimki duo combined for 42 points and 13 assists and got the better of Nick Calathes, the man who fuels Panathinaikos's offense. Calathes started hot, dishing 7 assists in the first quarter, but then had just 4 the rest of the way. Calathes had just 3 points and 1 assist in the fourth quarter.
"In the second half, we made more effort in one-on-one defense, we changed our pick-and-roll defense and it worked", Khimki coach Rimas Kurtinaitis said in a courtside interview after the game. "We also made more pressure on Nick Calathes and naturally, at the end of the game he was a little bit tired."
On the other hand, 10 of Khimki's 13 assists from Shved and Timma came after the first quarter and Shved had 9 points and 3 assists during the final 10 minutes when the hosts turned a 77-73 lead into a 103-86 victory. It also helped that Khimki shot 15 for 29 from three-point range with Shved and Timma alone assisting for 8 three-point shots that their teammates made. One the other hand, Panathinaikos made 8 of 25 attempts from behind the arc for the night.
Calathes, who played a game-high 34 minutes, did get a helping hand in Jimmer Fredette's 16 points, but it was not enough to keep up with Khimki's offense, which kept charging and would not be slowed down on this night.