CSKA edges Efes for a statement road win
In a thrilling rematch of last season's Championship Game that went down to the wire, Mike James hit a game-winner to lift defending champion CSKA Moscow to an 80-81 win over Anadolu Efes Istanbul at a packed Sinan Erdem Dome on Friday night. The win improved CSKA to 10-5, while Efes had its eight-game winning streak snapped to drop to 12-3 for a share of first place in the standings. Efes spent the majority of the night in front, and led by as many as 11 points late in the third quarter, but CSKA quickly erased the deficit. There were two ties and five lead changes in the final five minutes, and James hit a jumper with 17 seconds remaining to decide the winner. James finished with 28 points, making 5-of-5 two-point shots and 5-of-7 three-pointers, along with 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Kyle Hines collected 16 points and 6 rebounds, Johannes Voigtmann scored 15 and Darrun Hilliard had 10 points in victory. Krunoslav Simon paced Efes with 21 points, and Shane Larkin scored 18 points. Rodrigue Beaubois scored 10 points in a loss.
CSKA started the game on fire, with Voigtmann connecting twice from downtown, and James adding a triple and fastbreak layup to open a 4-11 lead. Larkin got himself going with a triple, but James hit twice more from long range to put CSKA up 11-19. However, Larkin replied with a pair of triples of his own, before Dogus Balbay hit a half-court buzzer-beater to cut it to 22-23 after 10 minutes. Efes continued making shots in the second quarter, with back-to-back long-range daggers from Beaubois giving the hosts their first lead, 30-27. The hosts did not stop there. Balbay had a corner triple, and Sertac Sanli scored twice, including a fastbreak dunk he facilitated to open a 39-31 lead. But James had his fourth triple, and Voigtmann added a three-point play to halve the deficit, before Hilliard's three-pointer cut it to 43-41. Efes took 47-43 into halftime and then Simon hit a triple, but Hines scored layups on three consecutive trips down the floor to make it 52-50. Simon knocked down another triple and added a pair of close-range baskets for Efes to restore breathing room, 61-52. The scoring slowed down, and a dunk by Pleiss opened the first double-digit lead of the game late in the third quarter, 66-55. But Joel Bolomboy dunked to close the third quarter and open the fourth, before Voigtmann's triple to cut it to 66-64. Beaubois snapped a 0-9 run with a jumper and Larkin hit a three-pointer, but James answered with a layup-plus-foul and a transition triple on consecutive possessions before a dunk by Hines capped a 0-8 run to give CSKA its first lead of the second half, 74-76. Simon restored Efes’ lead with a three-pointer, James replied with a three-point play, before Larkin scored in traffic but missed a free throw. The teams entered the final minute tied at 79-79. Then Pleiss split free throws, and James hit a jumper to put CSKA in front. Efes had a final possession: Larkin took the ball, went to his left and shot a baseline jumper that hit the front rim, signaling the CSKA players to start celebrating a huge road win.
Mike James shines
Mike James had another stellar scoring night - not only scoring 28 points, but also coming up huge in clutch time. The reigning Alphonso Ford Top Scorer Trophy winner scored 10 of CSKA’s final 13 points over the final five minutes. He had a driving layup-plus-foul, a three-pointer, banked a floater and hit a mid-range jumper to lift CSKA to victory.
CSKA defense steps up
Efes scored 47 point in the first half, making 8-of-12 three-pointers. But over the final two quarters, CSKA allowed just 33 points and held Efes to 4-for-12 three-point shooting. CSKA’s defensive effort held the hosts to just 1 assist in the third, and 1 in the fourth quarter.
CSKA had 16 turnovers, almost double Efes (9), and the hosts hit 12 threes to CSKA's 9, but CSKA outrebounded the hosts 28-38, had more assists (11-16), and CSKA had 7 blocks while Efes did not block a single shot.
Streak goes on
CSKA has now won 10 consecutive games against Efes, a run of victories that dates back to February 2013. Efes will have another shot to snap this streak pretty soon, in the first week of February 2020.
A chance missed
Efes now has a 5-2 record on its home floor this season, while being 7-1 on the road. With just its third defeat in 15 games, the Turkish team missed a chance to match its best-ever EuroLeague start.
Next week in Round 16 both teams will be at home to close out the action this calendar year. CSKA will welcome AX Armani Exchange Milan and former coach Ettore Messina on Thursday, and the same day Efes will host Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv.
Friday, December 20, 2019