Planinic, defense keep Khimki undefeated at home
BC Khimki Moscow Region remained undefeated in Top 16 Group F by downing FC Barcelona Regal 78-65 at home on Thursday. Khimki, which leads Group F with a 2-0 record, handed Barcelona its first road loss of the season. Khimki is undefeated at home in all three competitions – the Euroleague, VTB League and Russian League. Barcelona saw its 17-game winning streak in the Top 16 end. Barcelona had not lost in the Top 16 since February 3, 2010, 67-66 against Partizan. Zoran Planinic led the winners with 16 points and 6 assists. Vitaly Fridzon added 13 points while Paul Davis and Alexey Zhukanenko each had 10 for Khimki. Ante Tomic led Barcelona with 16 points. Pete Mickeal added 14 and Erazem Lorbek had 12. Barcelona was without scoring king Juan Carlos Navarro, who did not travel to Russia due to injury. An alley-oop layup by Marcelinho Huertas gave Barcelona a 14-15 lead, but Egor Vyaltsev and Zhukanenko gave Khimki a 21-18 edge after 10 minutes. Zhukanenko got some help from Fridzon to boost the hosts' lead to 38-29, but Sarunas Jasikevicius and Tomic kept Barcelona within 46-41 at halftime. Planinic and Petteri Koponen helped Khimki make it a 14-point game, 62-48, late in the third quarter. Barcelona got within 62-55 at the end of the third quarter but Khimki held the guests scoreless for the next four minutes to seal the outcome long before the final buzzer.
First quarter: Vyaltsev, Planinic put Khimki ahead
Khimki head coach Rimas Kurtinaitis surprised everyone by placing swingman Vyaltsev in the starting lineup for the first time this season. He got Khimki going with a running jumper, which Tomic matched with a jump hook. Sergey Monya struck from downtown, as both teams tried long possessions in the opening minutes. Joe Ingles finished one of those with a three-pointer that tied it at 5-5. Kresimir Loncar shined with a layup-plus-foul, but Tomic scored again to keep Barcelona within 8-7. Mickeal stepped up with a put-back basket to give the guests their first lead, 8-9. Planinic scored in transition and followed that with free throws to restore a 12-9 Khimki edge. Mickeal took over with a fast break basket off a steal and erased Planinic's foul shots with a driving layup. Huertas silenced the crowd with an alley-oop layup, but back-to-back baskets by Vyaltsev and Paul Davis gave Khimki a 18-15 edge. Ingles and Zhukanenko traded triples to fix the score at 21-18 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Khimki's great offense keeps it ahead
Lorbek buried a three-pointer early in the second quarter, but K.C. Rivers quickly answered from downtown. Lorbek kept pacing Barcelona with a jump hook. Davis hit a fallaway jumper for a 26-23 Khimki lead. Jasikevicius buried a baseline jumper, which Vitaly Fridzon matched with a close shot. Davis fed Zhukanenko for a power layup - and the free throw that came with it – and a fadeaway jumper by Koponen forced Barcelona to call timeout at 33-25. Huertas tried to change things with a wild driving layup and Jasikevicius banked in a close shot to bring the guests within 33-29. Koponen downed a six-meter shot and Fridzon nailed a stop-and-pop triple to boost Khimki's lead to 38-29. Jasikevicius scored again and a layup by Tomic saw Khimki call timeout at 38-33. Fridzon hit a mid-range shot, but Tomic followed a jump hook with a one-handed jumper in the lane. Zhukanenko ignited the crowd with an off-balance jumper and erased Tomic's free throws with a dunk. Planinic took over with a finger roll layup, but a jumper by Mickeal kept Barcelona within 46-41 at halftime.
Third quarter: Khimki rolls, Barcelona stays in the game
James Augustine, who had been scoreless until that moment, took over with a three-point play immediately after the break. Barcelona struggled to score and Khimki locked up the defensive boards with Davis and Augustine together on court. An off-balance jumper by Planinic made it a double-digit game, 41-31. Lorbek tried to ignite his team's comeback with free throws and a layup by Tomic brought Barcelona a bit closer, 51-45. Augustine stepped up with a tip-in and a jumper by Planinic restored a 55-45 Khimki lead. Lorbek struck from downtown, but Fridzon provided a highlight with an acrobatic layup off a steal. Barcelona tried to use Ingles to guard Planinic, but Khimki kept finding open shots. Koponen buried a three-pointer and followed that with a step-back jumper that boosted the hosts' margin to 62-48. Huertas made free throws, Mickeal fed Tomic for a layup and soon added a layup to bring Barcelona back to life, 62-54. A free throw by C.J. Wallace kept the guests within 62-55 after 30 minutes.
Fourth quarter: Khimki's defense seals it
Davis nailed a jump hook early in the fourth quarter and Augustine added a five-meter jumper, which gave Khimki some fresh air, 66-55. Barcelona struggled to score right when it mattered most and Fridzon shined with a power layup that forced the guests to call a much-needed timeout at 68-55. Planinic fed Fridzon for an alley-oop layup, as the hosts had started to use long possessions to run the game clock down. Barcelona missed 8 shots in a row before Mickeal stepped up with a backdoor layup. Davis answered with a fast break basket that Huertas matched with free throws for a 72-59 score with over four minutes to go. Davis made foul shots and a fallaway jumper by Planinic sealed the outcome at 76-59. Barcelona kept trying, but the Khimki fans were celebrating a historic home win. Khimki stayed undefeated and got closer to the playoffs and Barcelona has plenty of time to bounce back and keep fighting for Euroleague glory.
Thursday, January 3, 2013