Jovic leads Khimki past Zalgiris
Khimki Moscow Region bounced back from a tough overtime loss by downing Zalgiris Kaunas 83-74 at home on Friday. Khimki improved to 8-7 while Zalgiris dropped to 3-12 and is on a nine-game losing streak. Stefan Jovic and Alexey Shved led the winners with 25 points apiece, and Jeremy Evans added 10. Jock Landale led Zalgiris with a personal-best 24 points while Thomas Walkup scored 10. Devin Booker and Shved fueled an early 11-0 run which allowed Khimki to keep a 21-16 lead after 10 minutes. Anthony Gill, Evans and Jovic helped the hosts stay in charge, 38-33, at halftime. Lukas Lekavicius hit consecutive floaters to make Zalgiris tie the game late in the third quarter. But Shved buried a couple of three-pointers in an 8-0 run that put Khimki ahead for good, 57-49, after 30 minutes. Jovic and Shved made sure the hosts kept a safe margin throughout the fourth quarter.
KC Rivers hit a jumper and Edgaras Ulanovas added a layup to give Zalgiris an early 2-4 lead. Shved stepped up for Khimki, scoring 6 points in an 11-0 run highlighted by Booker's dunk. Walkup answered from downtown, igniting a 0-9 run in which Landale had the next 6 points to tie the game, 13-13. Jonas Jerebko rescued Khimki with a layup and Shved added a stop-and-pop jumper but Arturas Milaknis struck from beyond the arc for a 17-16 score. An alley-oop dunk by Evans and a fast break slam by Gill restored a 21-16 Khimki lead after 10 minutes. Lukas Lekavicius bettered Chris Kramer's jumper with a triple early in the second quarter, but Evans sank a jumper and Jovic added a three-pointer to boost the hosts' lead. Milaknis and Jovic traded baskets, then Landale brought the guests a bit closer, 30-25. Evans and Gill kept pacing Khimki but Landale and Nigel Hayes kept Zalgiris within 38-33 at halftime. Zach LeDay scored off the baseline immediately after the break and Landale added a layup to make it a one-point game, 38-37. Shved and Jovic tried to change things for the hosts but Walkup and Landale kept Zalgiris within 42-40. Evans dunked and Jonas Jerebko found his first points, before Lekavicius buried an off-balance floater and Jovic delivered a bomb from downtown. Lekavicius kept pacing Zalgiris, getting help from Hayes and Landale to tie the game, 49-49. But Jovic scored in penetration and Shved downed consecutive triples for a 57-49 Khimki lead after 30 minutes. Jovic netted from beyond the arc early in the fourth to make it a double-digit game. Rivers followed a layup with a three-pointer to give Zalgiris hope, 60-54, with 8 minutes left. An unstoppable Jovic answered from downtown and added a driving layup that made the guests stop the game at 65-54. Jovic sank his fifth three-pointer and Shved copied him for a 71-59 Khimki lead with 4 minutes left. LeDay dunked in traffic and Walkup added a layup but Khimki had already started to run down the game clock and a fast break basket by Kramer sealed the outcome with two minutes to go.
Stefan Jovic was just unstoppable on offense, hitting almost every shot and dictating the game tempo. He finished with a career-high 25 points on 4-of-4 two-point shots, 5-of-6 three-pointers and 2-of-2 free throws. He added 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and 3 fouls drawn for a PIR of 29.
A floater by Lekavicius tied the game, 49-49, late in the third quarter. But Jovic quickly scored in penetration, then Shved buried a three-pointer in transition and immediately struck again from downtown in Khimki's next offense and the home team led the rest of the way.
Rebounds and three-point shots made the difference in this game. Khimki outrebounded Zalgiris by 33-25 and fired in 12-of-23 three-point shots (52.2%). Zalgiris struggled from downtown, hitting just 5-of-21 shots (23.8%).
Did you notice?
This was Khimki's 8th consecutive win against Zalgiris. Khimki is undefeated at home against the Lithuanian powerhouse: 5 games, 5 wins. Zalgiris's only win against Khimki was almost a decade ago, triumphing 73-65 in Kaunas on November 18, 2010.
Khimki visits LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne on Thursday, December 26 at 20:45 CET. A day later, on Friday, December 27, Zalgiris visits FC Bayern Munich at 20:30 CET.
Friday, December 20, 2019