By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
CSKA Moscow led from start to finish and was up even by 18 points en route to beating Zalgiris Kaunas 83 – 73 and return to wins in EuroLeague. The result marked the first loss after five straight victories for Zalgiris.
Mike James finished with 21 points and five assists while December MVP Nikola Milutinov had a double-double of 10 points and 14 rebounds to pace CSKA. Toko Shengelia posted 18 points plus seven rebounds, Darrun Hilliard scored 17 and Johannes Voigtmann 11 for the hosts that played without forward Will Clyburn and guard Daniel Hackett.
Marius Grigonis (16 points) and Thomas Walkup (11 points) stood out for Zalgiris Kaunas. The visiting side nearly completely erased its 52 – 34 deficit early in the second half to first make it 60 – 50 at the end of the third quarter and then 60 – 57, two minutes into the final period.
James and Hilliard then rallied CSKA for a 8 – 0 answer to once again hand their team a double-digit advantage. Shengelia made a key 3-point play for the 80 – 67 with 1:51 to play and then James added a pair of free throws to seal the deal for the “Army Men.”
“Nobody said it was going to be easy,” Shengelia said. “We know that Zalgiris is a very serious team and if you don’t bring 100%, it was going to be very tough. Thankfully, we were a very serious team, defensively and offensively
CSKA, that improved to 15 – 4, outrebounded Zalgiris 43 – 22. The Lithuanian team is now 11 – 8.
Everyone adding a piece to the win
Five CSKA players scored in double figures and coach Dimitris Itoudis was satisfied to see many contributing.
We fought and I think that is the meaning of playing as a team, that each and everyone gives something regardless how many minutes he plays,” Itoudis said. “Definitely, from the first unit, we can find a lot of good things, like Nikola’s double-double, but back to our defensive end, let’s not forget that Zalgiris was coming over here with a record of assists against Khimki, with 25 assists in the previous game. We managed to keep them to 17, and that says a lot about our effort on the defensive end.
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball