CSKA Moscow defeated Khimki Moscow Region on the road, 96-85. After a high-scoring 1st quarter, the tempo slowed, playing into the visitors' hands. Leading most of the contest, the Army Men ultimately secured a double-digit advantage and went on to win their 16th straight in the league.
Khimki's home arena was sold out for one of the biggest games of the regular season. CSKA entered the contest in 1st place, riding a 15-game winning streak, while Khimki boasted its own nine-game streak and 3rd place in the standings.
Both teams came out firing, putting on a show of offensive efficiency in the opening period. (Khimki got hot inside the arc, while CSKA did its damage from downtown). They combined for 58 points in the 1st quarter, with Josh Boone giving the home team a 30-28 lead thanks to an alley-oop dunk at the buzzer.
The game slowed down in the 2nd quarter. CSKA appeared more comfortable in the halfcourt and took a six-point lead into halftime, helped out by a buzzer-beater from Nando De Colo (51-45).
Khimki adjusted to the pace in the 3rd quarter and briefly led midway through the period, but the Army Men closed on a 14-2 run to go up by 10. Moscow Region was undone by turnovers and poor shooting, while Viktor Khryapa gave CSKA a boost off the bench, knocking down several shots and making big plays on defense. Entering the 4th quarter, CSKA enjoyed a 72-62 lead.
Khimki coach Rimas Kurtinaitis went with a smaller lineup in the final period, hoping to catch CSKA by surprise. But the Army Men opened the quarter on an 8-1 run and had little trouble closing out the win. Khimki never got closer than eight in the final minutes. With the win, CSKA moves to 19-1, two games up on 2nd-place UNICS.
Viktor Khryapa. The Russian forward is returning to form after an early-season injury. He was terrific on Monday night, contributing in every facet of the game. Khryapa finished with nine points (4-5 from the field), six rebounds and five assists.
Vitaly Fridzon contributed 13 points, 3 rebounds and 2 steals.
On the other side, James Augustine had a solid game with 18 points and 6 rebounds. Petteri Koponen and Alexey Shved scored 13 each, Tyrese Rice added 10. Sergey Monia added 7 and Egor Vyaltsev 3.
Khimki head coach Rimas Kurtinaitis:
- Congratulations to coach Itoudis and his team on a very good game. Today they were better, no question, even though we battled as best we could. I think we both played fairly well. We didn't do well at the end of the 3rd quarter and those three minutes decided the outcome. We made a lot of unnecessary turnovers in simple situations, which affected the outcome. But I'm happy that despite trailing by 17, we battled and could have made it interesting with a minute to go if we'd knocked down a '3'. We were counting on winning at home, but it didn't happen. There are a lot of games to play and this loss is no tragedy.
Courtesy of VTB League