Khimki survived 82-76 against Prokom
Two rivals from a year ago took each other's measure again to start the new Turkish Airlines Season, and when the dust settled in Russia on Wednesday night, host Khimki Moscow Region had outlasted never-say-die Asseco Prokom Gdynia 82-76 thanks to some much-needed last-minute concentration. Khimki goes 1-0 in Group A, but played with fire all night, letting Prokom come back from double-digit deficits repeatedly. The last of those came on Jan Jagla's three-pointer, which made it a 79-76 score going into the final minute. The only good shots after that were 3 free throws by Keith Langford, which let his team escape with the victory. Langford led six double-digit Khimki scorers with 17 points and pulled 6 rebounds. Vitaly Fridzon added 13 points for the winners, Zoran Planinic 12, Ben Eze, Aleksey Savrasenko and Raul Lopez 11 each. In his Euroleague debut, Prokom forward J.R. Giddens was phenomenal, making 10 of 10 two-point shots to score 22 points in double-double performance that included 10 rebounds. Ratko Varda followed him with 17 points, while Daniel Ewing canned 16. In the end, Khimki's advantages of 17-8 in assists 10-5 in three-pointers, several on wide-open shots, made the difference, especially one shot from the arc by Fridzon late in the final quarter. Prokom lost starting guard Bobby Brown in the first half when he was ejected for having committed two intentional fouls in the same game.
Eze banked in a five-meter jumper to get Khimki going and even when Brown quickly answered in the other end, a tip-in by Lopez gave his team a 4-2 edge. Langford downed a jumper off the dribble and a three-pointer by Sergey Monya sent Khimki into a TV timeout ahead by 9-2. Piotr Szczkota stepped up with a follow-up layup, as Prokom adjusted its man-to-man defense. Khimki went scoreless for more than 2 minutes until Langford struck from downtown for a 12-5 score. Prokom tried to balance its offense with Varda and new arrival Filip Videnov on court, but the guests kept struggling to find open shots. Langford and Varda traded free throws, as Prokom tried a 2-3 zone defense. Monya immediately punished it with another triple that made it a double-digit game, 16-6. Prokom was in trouble until Ewing buried a jumper and Giddens a put-back basket in a 0-6 run that got the guests within 16-12. Planinic scored down low but free throws by Ewing fixed an 18-14 scoreboard after 10 minutes.
Khimki tried a taller lineup early in the second quarter with Kreso Loncar and Aleksey Savrasenko together on court. Fridzon took over with a power basket in transition and Savrasenko soon gave the hosts a 21-14 edge. Savrasenko kept pacing Khimki with a left-handed fastbreak layup, forcing Prokom to call timeout at 23-14. Fridzon split free throws on Brown's second unsportsmanlike foul, which got him ejected from the game. Ewing tried to change things with a three-pointer and Giddens added a fast break layup to get the guests within 24-19. Varda hit a jump hook but free throws by Planinic and another layup by Savrasenko boosted Khimki's lead to 28-21. Giddens and Ewing stepped up for Prokom with consecutive three-point plays but Lopez answered twice from downtown to keep Khimki out of trouble, 34-27. Ronnie Burrell joined the three-point shootout and free throws by Varda and Ewing got Prokom as close as 34-33. Langford and Giddens traded baskets but a free throw by Monya gave Khimki a 37-35 edge at halftime.
Planinic broke Prokom's zone with a wide-open three-pointer to start the second half. Eze got an inside basket plus a free throw with it before Michael Wilks finally got Prokom's first basket since the break at 43-37. When Videnov came off a screen to drill a triple, the guests were within 43-40. Eze got to the line for 3 more free throws to keep Khimki safe, but Videnov got loose for a second blast from the arc. Prokom kept in its zone, though, and Planinic punished it again. Ewing fed Adam Lapeta for a layup for Prokom before Eze, again, converted a layup and the accompanying free throw to make it 52-45. When a series of misses ended with Planinic going behind his back to Fridzon for a triple in the corner, it was 55-45 and Prokom needed a timeout. Varda and Ewing chipped away at the difference, but Prokom's defense let Langford and Planinic score inside. When Lopez stole and fed Savrasenko for a fastbreak layup, Khimki held a 63-55 lead after 30 minutes.
Lopez opened the final quarter with another steal, this time feeding Fridzon for a three-point play and an 11-point lead, 66-55. Giddens would not let Prokom fall further behind, though, and made two inside baskets at 66-59. Another Khimki shooter, Lopez, got wide open and took back 3 points at 69-59. Varda answered inside for Prokom, while Fridzon found Savrasenko for another easy two. Ewing made a basket that was anything by easy as Prokom refused to go away. By the time Giddens hit his eighth two-pointer without a miss, Ewing added 2 free throws and Varda powered in a put-back, it was suddenly 74-69 with 3:33 left to play. Next, after another steal, Ewing missed his fastbreak triple, but Giddens slammed the rebound with one hand, making it 74-71 and forcing a Khimki timeout. The hosts made the timeout pay, getting a baseline jumper from Langford followed by an open three-pointer from Fridzon to open a 79-71 difference. Still, Prokom stormed forward, getting a layup by Wilks and big triple from Jagla to again make it a three-point game, 79-76, heading into the final minute. Giddens then stole but ran over Langford on the break for an offensive foul, his fifth, which ended his incredible Euroleague debut. Langford downed 2 free throws at the other end, and after a timeout, Ewing's dunk try ricocheted out. Langford's next foul shot made it 82-76 with 24 seconds left, after which no one scored, sending the Khimki fans home happy.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010