CSKA's early KO punch holds off Madrid
An early and decisive takeover run lifted CSKA Moscow to game-long leads en route to defeating Real Madrid 93-87 to open Round 21 on Thursday. Top-of-the-table CSKA improved to 17-4 while Madrid fell to 13-8, in danger of vacating the top four spots in the standings. A 24-3 run in the game's first 7 minutes led CSKA to a 33-11 advantage after one quarter. Madrid whittled that difference down to its low at the finish, but could not complete the comeback and remains winless against CSKA in Moscow in five tries since 2008. Sergio Rodriguez paced the winners with 18 points and 5 assists against his old team. Cory Higgins added 16 points, Will Clyburn and Othello Hunter 11 each, Nando De Colo and Nikita Kurbanov 10 more. Luka Doncic led all scorers with 21 points for Madrid, which saw All-EuroLeague forward Anthony Randolph return after two months injured. Jaycee Carroll added 16 points, Trey Thompkins 13 and Facundo Campazzo 10 for the visitors.
Campazzo struck from the arc first, but Kurbanov matched him, Clyburn dunked alone and Rodriguez blasted a triple to force a Madrid timeout. Rodriguez's steal and two-pointer suddenly made it 12-2. Clyburn rang up a triple before Fernandez ended CSKA's 15-0 run with a lane jumper. Kyle Hines put in back-to-back baskets and another triple by Rodriguez made it a mind-blowing 24-5, all without Nando De Colo in the game yet. Jeffery Taylor and Walter Tavares traded shots with Hines and Higgins. De Colo's long two was matched by Tavares much closer before Semen Antonov ended a spectacular first quarter from deep, giving CSKA a 33-11 lead. CSKA cooled down and Doncic hit the first basket of the second quarter after 2 minutes. Higgins restarted CSKA's offense, but Fabien Causeur hit a corner triple and Doncic a post-up shot to make it 35-18. Clyburn answered for CSKA, followed by Higgins and Rodriguez to make it 41-20. Hunter took over next with back-to-back baskets, one with an added free throw, and then a huge alley-oop dunk on an assist by Rodriguez at 50-26. Higgins and De Colo scored as Carroll put in 7 points including a triple to end the half 54-31.
Rodriguez drained his third three-pointer without a miss to open the second half. Doncic scored the next 5 points and Randolph downed his first basket in 2018 to make it 57-38. Rodriguez and Carroll traded jumpers before a big block by Tavares sent Doncic for a fastbreak layup at 59-42. Doncic and Kurbanov hit triples, as did Campazzo and Rodriguez. But Campazzo came back with another, and was fouled for a four-point play that lowered the difference to 66-52. Higgins made the sixth consecutive triple between the teams before Doncic made a free throw and assisted Randolph for a dunk that prompted a CSKA timeout at 69-55. Higgins responded with a three-point play and De Colo scored inside amid a flurry of free throws and a dunk by Randolph that left a 78-60 score after 30 minutes. Thompkins, Rudy Fernandez and Felipe Reyes quickly cut the difference to 78-66 to begin the fourth quarter. When Thompkins scored again and Carroll made it an 8-0 run with a second-chance jumper, Madrid was within 78-70. CSKA had been scoreless for nearly 5 minutes when Antonov made free throws and then Vitaly Fridzon drilled his first shot from deep to make it 83-70. Madrid needed a timeout now, and from it Doncic dunked and his missed free throw became a Carroll three-pointer at 83-75 with still 4 minutes to play. Fridzon and Tavares hit free throws, then Rodriguez connected with Clyburn for a reverse. Higgins answered a basket by Thompkins, but the latter drilled a corner triple at 91-83 with less than 2 minutes left. That, however, was Madrid's last gasp as CSKA's game-long cushion held up for its 17th victory.
Thursday, February 1, 2018