CSKA turns on offense to surge past Zvezda
Defending champion CSKA Moscow used its home court to get back to winning ways by downing Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 100-74 on Wednesday night in the Russian capital. CSKA improved to 9-5, while Zvezda dropped to 5-9 on the season. The hosts led for the majority of the first half behind Mike James who scored 22 points before halftime, and after Zvezda went in front midway through the third quarter behind its 2-15 run, James and Joel Bolomboy fueled CSKA's offense and the hosts took control and cruised to victory. James finished with 29 points on 6-for-7 three-point shooting and Bolomboy scored a career-high 17 points in 16 minutes. Nikita Kurbanov added 11 points and Darrun Hilliard finished with 10 in a big victory. Dejan Davidovac scored 17 points for the visitors and Billy Baron had 14 points for Zvezda which was missing its top scorer Lorenzo Brown.
Ognjen Kuzmic had 6 close-range points for the visitors and Filip Covic a three-point play, but James scored 13 points, including 3 three-pointers to give CSKA an 18-13 lead early on. After Covic and Kurbanov traded three-pointers, a triple from Branko Lazic tied it at 21-21. But Janis Strelnieks scored the last 5 points of the first quarter before feeding Bolomboy for an alley-oop dunk to make it 29-23. Davidovac had a three and a dribble-and-drive to the rim to keep the visitors close, but Andrey Vorontsevich and Bolomboy fueled a CSKA run that opened a 41-30 lead. Davidovac hit another one from long range and James Gist added a baseline jumper to cut the gap to 43-38. However, James hit triples on three consecutive possessions to restore a double-digit advantage, before Mouhammad Faye's three made it 52-44 at halftime. Zvezda charged back to start the third quarter. Baron hit back-to-back triples before Borisa Simanic scored a layup and a three-pointer to give the visitors a 54-55 lead. CSKA was without a field goal for almost 5 minutes before James snapped a 2-14 run. The hosts regained control after Kurbanov hit a triple. Bolomboy quickly added one of his own, before James and Semen Antonov scored baskets-plus-fouls on consecutive possessions to give CSKA control at 76-62 going into the fourth quarter. The hosts continued their run in the fourth quarter, with Hilliard stringing together 7 points, including a transition triple that helped make it 91-65 as CSKA cruised to victory.
CSKA finished the third quarter with a 15-4 run and opened the fourth quarter with a 15-3 charge. It turned a one-possession game into a 26-point margin.
The James show
Mike James hit 3 of 3 from long range in the opening 7 minutes in scoring 13 points. He then made a triple on three consecutive possessions in the final 2 minutes of the second quarter. James scored 22 of his 29 points in the first half and shot 6 for 7 from three-point range, with his only miss being a half-court heave at the end of the second quarter. He did not attempt another three-point shot in the second half.
CSKA center Joel Bolomboy was near unstoppable as he played a key role in CSKA's victory. He scored a career-high 17 points by making 4 of 5 two-point shots and hitting his only three-point attempt. He also had 4 rebounds, all in just 16 minutes off the bench. This was the third time in the last five games that Bolomboy scored in double figures.
CSKA has scored 100 or more points at least four times in each of the past four seasons. This is the first time this season CSKA reached triple digits. CSKA also had 27 assists, its season-high, while committing just 6 turnovers, the team low this season.
Both teams return to action on Friday for Round 15. CSKA travels to visit league-leading Anadolu Efes Istanbul in a rematch of last May's championship game, while Zvezda will welcome Olympiacos Piraeus to the Serbian capital.
Wednesday, December 18, 2019