James's game-winner lifts CSKA to OT win
Mike James drilled a game-winning three-pointer on the overtime buzzer to lift CSKA Moscow over Zalgiris Kaunas 85-82 in the Russian capital on Thursday. CSKA improved to 8-4 in the standings while Zalgiris dropped to 3-9 with its sixth consecutive loss. James finished with 19 points, Janis Strelnieks added 18, Ron Baker scored 13, Joel Bolomboy 12 and Daniel Hackett had 11 for CSKA. Thomas Walkup led Zalgiris with 19 points, Lukas Lekavicius tallied 15, Jock Landale 12 and Zach LeDay 11. Landale added 11 rebounds for a double-double. A floater by Lekavicius tied the game at 69-69 and James missed a mid-range shot at the end of regulation, sending the game to overtime. Landale gave Zalgiris a 75-76 lead with 1:15 left but James had 10 points in the final 63 seconds, including the game-winning shot at the buzzer.
Strelnieks got CSKA going with a driving layup which LeDay quickly erased with a turnaround jumper. Hackett stepped up for CSKA only to see Walkup score twice in penetration. LeDay added a couple of jump hooks and Martinas Geben dunked in a 0-15 run that gave Zalgiris a double-digit lead, 6-17. Andrey Vorontsevich stepped up with a corner jumper and Bolomboy brought CSKA a bit closer, 9-17, after 10 minutes. James and Darrun Hilliard rescued the hosts early in the second quarter, but Landale followed a layup with a jump hook to keep Zalgiris in charge, 15-21. Nigel Hayes took over with a second-chance basket, which Walkup followed with a driving layup that caused CSKA to stop the game at 15-25. Landale capped an 0-8 run with a fastbreak layup. Strelnieks bettered that with a three-point play. Hines dunked and got help from Strelnieks and Baker to bring CSKA within 25-29. Strelnieks kept pushing the hosts with layups and Baker struck from downtown - CSKA's first three-pointer of the game - to give his team a 32-31 lead at halftime.
Edgaras Ulanovas banked in a running shot soon after the break, but Hines matched it with a big slam and Strelnieks added a jumper for a 36-33 CSKA edge. Landale and Bolomboy exchanged dunks in traffic and then Strelnieks and Baker each buried a three-pointer to boost the hosts' lead to 44-37. Lekavicius followed a floater with a jumper and then found Milaknis for a triple that drew Zalgiris within 46-44. Nikita Kurbanov answered from beyond the arc, but Geben and a red-hot Milaknis brought the visitors even closer, 51-50, after 30 minutes. Bolomboy ignited the crowd early in the fourth quarter with an alley-oop dunk and a three-pointer. Baker added a reverse layup for a 58-52 CSKA lead with over 6 minutes left in regulation. Walkup took over with back-to-back triples, but Hackett also struck twice from beyond the arc for a 64-60 score. Lekavicius followed free throws with a jumper that tied it again, 64-64, with 2:31 to go. Baker and Walkup traded three-pointers before James restored a narrow CSKA lead with a minute left in regulation. Lekavicius buried his trademark floater to even things at 69-69 and CSKA got the ball back with 14.3 seconds remaining. James missed a five-meter shot at the end of regulation.
Hines dunked early in overtime and Bolomboy added a baseline jumper for a 73-71 CSKA lead. Nigel Hayes banked in a three-pointer, but Strelnieks answered with a layup to give the hosts the lead in the next-to-last minute. Landale hit free throws and Lekavicius added a jumper, but an outstanding James followed a driving layup with a three-point play for an 80-78 edge. After LeDay hit free throws, James hit a jumper that bounced three times around the rim and went in with 12.4 seconds left. Walkup tried a floater, which Bolomboy blocked on its way down, allowing Zalgiris to tie it at 82-82, with 4.7 seconds left. And then James came through again with the game-winner.
James stepped up big in the final 2 minutes of overtime to singlehandedly win the game for CSKA, swishing the game-winning shot right at the buzzer. He finished the game with 19 points off the bench, hitting 8 of 9 free throws and adding 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 7 fouls drawn for a PIR of 18. Most important, he delivered when his team needed him most, showing great leadership.
Free throws by Landale gave Zalgiris a 75-76 lead and this is when the James show began. First, he scored in penetration. Then he bettered Lekavicius's jumper with a wild three-point play. With the game tied at 80-80, he downed a jumper that hit the rim three times before it went in. And at 82-82 and 4.7 seconds left, he took matters into his own hands and buried the game-winning triple.
Zalgiris finished the game with 48 rebounds, one shy of its club-record - 49, accomplished three times - and tied the second-best mark in the EuroLeague this season. It wasn't enough, however, as turnovers had a bigger impact on the outcome of the game. CSKA only had 8 turnovers and forced Zalgiris into 15.
Did you notice?
Zalgiris limited CSKA to just 9 points in the opening quarter. In 19 seasons and over 200 games in the Russian capital, CSKA only had a single-digit first quarter at home once before; it scored 9 points against JSF Nanterre (9-14 after 10 minutes) on November 21, 2013.
Both teams return to EuroLeague action next week. CSKA visits Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv on Thursday, December 12. It is a rematch of the 2006 and 2008 championship games, which CSKA won. Maccabi center Othello Hunter will play against his former team, too. Zalgiris hosts Valencia Basket, featuring former forward Brock Motum, on Friday.
Thursday, December 5, 2019