CSKA Moscow routs Panathinaikos to claim Final Four berth
CSKA Moscow produced a defensive masterpiece in routing Panathinaikos 55-74 Wednesday at Olympic Sports Center Athens to win their best-of-five playoffs series 3-1 and take a spot at the 2015 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four. CSKA limited Panathinaikos to 12 points or less in three quarters in a game that it never trailed after the third minute. Andrei Kirilenko dominated early to give CSKA a double-digit lead in the first quarter. James Gist helped Panathinaikos get back within 3 in the second quarter, which ended at 32-37. A Nikos Pappas triple made it 41-45 in the third quarter, but a 0-13 CSKA run essentially put the game out of reach and CSKA marched towards the victory and a ticket to Madrid. Nando De Colo led all scorers with 18 points, while Kirilenko added 13 points, 10 rebounds and 3 blocks, Kyle Hines scored 12 and Sonny Weems 11 for the winners. Pappas paced Panathinaikos with 11 points, Loukas Mavrokefalidis and Gist added 10 each and Dimitris Diamantidis tallied 9 points and 5 assists in defeat.
First quarter: Kirilenko stakes CSKA to double-digit lead
CSKA shook things up with De Colo starting for the first time in the playoffs and Milos Teodosic coming off the bench. Esteban Batista rocked the rim for the game’s first points. More than two minutes pass before Andrey Vorontsevich scored CSKA’s first basket with a tip-in. Diamantidis drove into the lane for a layup, but De Colo’s triple gave CSKA its first lead, 4-5. Pappas slipped on defense and De Colo pounced on the opening to drill a second three. The guard then found Sasha Kaun for a 6-point CSKA lead. The Green called a timeout to regroup and came back with a Diamantidis-to-Jame Gist alley-oop slam. Kirilenko started to put his stamp on the game with a pair of blocked shots and 7 points – including a dunk and a triple – to establish a double-digit lead for the visitors. A De Colo layup made it 7-19. Pappas netted 2 free throws and Mavrokefalidis hit a jumper to bring the hosts within 8. Kirilenko scored again to make it 11-21 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Gist’s dominant stretch carries Greens to within 3
Kirilenko dunked again on CSKA’s first possession of the quarter. Mavrokefalidis and Hines traded baskets inside. Pappas banked in a shot to make it 15-25. Diamantidis added a triple before Mavrokefalidis tipped in a Diamantidis miss. Batista dunked on the break to cap a 9-0 run. Hines muscled his way to a basket and Weems scored his first points for the visitors. Gist drove for an acrobatic bucket that made it 24-29. Gist came up with a steal, drew a foul, scored inside and came up with an incredible block of Pavel Korobkov from behind as the hosts clawed their way within a shot. Weems drove baseline for a slam, but Diamantidis countered with 2 free throws. A technical foul on Panathinaikos coach Ivanovic for protesting a call led to De Colo free throws and a Korobkov layup. Vlantimir Giankovits beat the 24-second clock with a tough jumper and Diamantidis free throws again cut the deficit, but De Colo’s last-second layup pushed CSKA ahead 32-37 at the break.
Third quarter: CSKA’s 0-13 charge deflates Panathinaikos’s spirits
Diamantidis lofted a pass for Batista that the big man finished, but De Colo buried a three at the other end. Kirilenko found a hole in the Panathinaikos defense and took advantage for a dunk and an 8-point lead. The two teams combined to miss 8 shots over three minutes before a Pappas layup on the break ended the drought. It was 36-42 midway through the quarter. Mavrokefalidis sank a jumper, but Hines went through Mavrokefalidis for a three-point play. Pappas ignited the Athens faithful with a three-pointer that made it 41-45. Mavrokefalidis committed 2 more fouls in the next minute to take a seat with 4. De Colo drilled a clutch three and Teodosic took a steal in for a layup, his first points and a 9-point cushion. Hines’s two-handed slam and foul deflated the hosts. He missed the free throw, but Kirilenko got the ball and found Teodosic for a three. Demetris Nichols added a triple to cap a 0-13 charge. Antonis Fotsis tried to jumpstart his team with a three, but a Nichols tip-in made it 44-60.
Fourth quarter: Visitors extend margin into 20s and cruise to victory
Hines contributed a bwin Euroleague Fantasy Challenge special with an offensive rebound, basket, foul drawn and free throw made. A Fotsis three brought a round of cheers from the stands. Aaron Jackson and Mavrokefalidis traded points. While Panathinaikos was able to limit the CSKA attack, time was running out on the hosts to generate offense in hopes of a comeback with the scoreboard at 49-67 with five minutes to go. Pappas hit a jumper, but there was not enough help behind him. A Weems three with less than three minutes remaining essentially iced the game at 51-70. Jackson’s jumper made it a 20-point difference as CSKA marched on towards Madrid.
Wednesday, April 22, 2015