Brown, Likhodey lead Lokomotiv to key home win
Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar improved its chances of reaching the playoffs from Top 16 Group F by downing Partizan NIS Belgrade 84-73 at home on Friday. Lokomotiv improved to 6-6 and tied Galatasaray Liv Hospital for fourth place. Partizan dropped to 3-9 and was mathematically eliminated from playoff contention with the loss. Derrick Brown led the winners with 18 points on 6-of-6 two-point shooting plus 7 assists and 3 steals. Valeriy Likhodey added 15 points on 5-of-6 three-point shooting, Simas Jasaitis scored 13, Richard Hendrix 12 and Mantas Kalnietis dished 8 assists for Lokomotiv. Davis Bertans led Partizan with 20 points. Sasha Pavlovic added 13 for the guests. Brown and Krunoslav Simon fueled a 13-2 opening run that allowed Lokomotiv to keep a 16-10 lead after 10 minutes. Pavlovic, Bertans and Bogdan Bogdanovic brought Partizan as close as 33-30, but a three-pointer by Jasaitis and a layup by Brown restored a 38-30 Lokomotiv lead at halftime. Likhodey sank three shots from downtown in a 13-0 run that broke the game open, 51-35, midway through the third quarter. A dunk by Aleks Maric extended the hosts' lead to 67-45 early in the fourth quarter, allowing Lokomotiv to have plenty of time to celebrate an important win. Lokomotiv dished 29 assists, one shy of the all-time Top 16 record, which belongs to Khimki Moscow Region (30, 2012-13) and the second-best this season; Panathinaikos had 31 against Laboral Kutxa Vitoria in regular season action.
First quarter: 13-2 opening run puts Loko in control
Both teams struggled to score early until Hendrix stepped up with a jump hook. Hendrix kept pacing Lokomotiv with a one-handed floater, as Partizan kept accumulating missed shots and turnovers. Brown followed free throws with a wild alley-oop to cap an 8-0 opening run. Partizan missed its first 6 shots until Bogdanovic nailed a mid-range jumper. Simon shined with a reverse layup and soon added a three-pointer that caused Partizan to call timeout down 13-2. Nikola Milutinov hit a jump hook and Bertans struck from way downtown to close within 14-7. The guests tried a taller lineup featuring Bertans, Milutinov and Djordje Gagic together on court and Lokomotiv struggled to find answers on offense. Milenko Tepic split free throws and a wild reverse layup by Bertans kept the guests within 14-10. Free throws by Maric gave Lokomotiv a 16-10 lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Partizan reacts, Lokomotiv keeps lead
Kalnietis buried a corner three-pointer early in the second quarter and a two-handed dunk by Brown restored a 21-10 Lokomotiv margin. Likhodey also struck from downtown to cap a 10-0 run. Bertans and Marcus Williams traded triples and a layup by Tepic kept Partizan within 27-15. Pavlovic scored in penetration, but Maric answered with a layup. A three-pointer by Bogdanovic got Partizan within single digits, 29-20. Pavlovic shined with a driving basket, which Hendrix erased with an easy slam. Bogdanovic scored around the basket and a power layup by Joffrey Lauvergne brought Partizan as close as 31-26. After Dejan Musli made free throws, Hendrix dunked again. Bogdanovic scored to keep the guests within 33-30. Jasaitis hit his trademark corner triple and Brown added a buzzer-beating layup to give Lokomotiv some fresh air, 38-30, at halftime.
Third quarter: Likhodey’s threes in 13-0 run break game open
Pavlovic took over with a dunk-and-foul immediately after the break and soon added free throws to keep Partizan as close as 38-35. Lokomotiv was held scoreless for almost two minutes until Likhodey swished a corner three-pointer. Kalnietis provided a highlight with a coast-to-coast layup and another triple by Likhodey ignited the crowd at 46-35. Brown sank his trademark jumper from the top of the key, before Partizan called timeout at 48-35. Likhodey hit another three-pointer which touched the trim, went up and fell down to cap a 13-0 Lokomotiv run. Tepic hit free throws, but Jasaitis nailed a triple. A layup by Bertans made it 54-39. Gagic tried to change things with a dunk, but Jasaitis did better with a reverse layup and another one from beyond the arc. After Gagic scored again, Williams shined with a driving layup. Lauvergne scored for the visitors, but a layup by Brown fixed the score at 63-45.
Fourth quarter: Loko seals It early
Anton Ponkrashov split free throws early in the fourth quarter. Brown took over with a big block and a dunk by Maric made it a 22-point game. Milutinov slammed in traffic, before Ponkrashov scored again. A layup by Pavlovic got Partizan a bit closer, 69-49. Bertans scored around the basket, but Lokomotiv stayed really active on defense. Brown scored off a steal, but Bertans nailed a three-pointer. A dunk by Hendrix kept the hosts way ahead, 74-54, with over four minutes left. A red-hot Bertans followed a triple with a layup and Lokomotiv called timeout at 74-59. Free throws by Hendrix and a second-chance layup by Jasaitis sealed the outcome, 78-59. Milutinov shined with a tip-in, but even though Partizan never gave up, Lokomotiv kept full control of the game and cruised to a well-deserved win.
Friday, March 28, 2014