Real Madrid unable to come out on top against Khimki 19  november  2015
With 14 points and 15 rebounds, Ayón was the stand-out man for a Whites outfit who fought hard right to the end.
Real Madrid fell to defeat against Khimki at the Palacio, an arena where they had up to now remained unbeaten in the Euroleague, in a match that had a Final Four flavour about it: close fought, brilliant basketball at times on display, and with maximum intensity. The Whites, who had chances to force overtime on two occasions, ultimately yielded to the solidity of the Russians. A double-double from Gustavo Ayón (14 points, 15 rebounds and a PIR of 30) and 17 points from Sergio Rodríguez proved to be in vain for a side left with little margin for error if they are to avoid running into trouble in their bid to qualify for Top 16.

A heavyweight European clash began with a minute's silence in memory of the victims of the attacks in Paris. Both teams came flying out of the traps, delivering a fierce struggle right from the first quarter. Sergio Llull (8 points, including a fantastic three-pointer) and Real Madrid's domination of the offensive rebound, with the pairing of Felipe Reyes and Ayón to the fore (4 points and 5 rebounds from the Mexican), counteracted the solidity of Khimki, for whom Tyrese Rice was pulling the strings (6 assists) and Petteri Koponen (6) and Egor Vyaltsev (5) were spot on with their shooting on the outside. A three from Vyaltsev tipped the scales the visitors' way at the end of the first ten minutes (22-24).

Madrid get going in defence
Employing quick transitions and with Alexey Shved making his mark in offence (7 points), Rimas Kurtinaitis' men established their maximum advantage after an 8-0 run between the 13th and 16th minutes, during which time Madrid were only able to sink one basket and saw a technical foul awarded against Andrés Nocioni for dissent (30-37, min. 16).

However, a time out called by Real Madrid head coach Pablo Laso proved the springboard for the Whites to begin to enjoy their best period of the match. They improved at the back, making life difficult for Rice and gaining in aggression, while in offence they started to move the ball better, with an incisive Rodríguez opening up the guests' defence with his shots and penetration (7 points). An 11-4 run for Madrid left the match at 40-all in the 20th minute, and parity was only undone by a 2+1 from Paul Davis (7) in the final seconds (42-44, min. 20).

Real Madrid came back out after the restart with a pair of three-pointers from Jaycee Carroll and two good pieces of defensive play from Ayón, and moved 50-47 ahead in the 22nd minute. By this point, the disparity in refereeing criteria on either side had led the play to grow more physical, with Reyes twice left on the floor. The Russians, and above all Rice, made the most of their opponents' state of consternation. The point guard took total charge over the next four minutes, scoring 11 points to lead a 15-4 run for Khimki (54-62, min. 26), but the hosts, showing no let-up in concentration in defence (12 rebounds from Ayón), got themselves back in the game from the free-throw line (63-66, min. 30).

Nail-biting finish
Real Madrid were in no doubt that getting the win would come down to giving everything at the back against clear candidates for the Final Four with a wealth of resources. They kept on believing, matching Khimki physically in a final quarter in which the tension became clear on both sides. Trey Thompkins, Rodríguez and Llull, with another three-pointer that had the Palacio off their seats, sought to eat up the ground on a Khimki team holding out thanks first to James Augustine and then Sergey Monia. With the scoreboard at 77-82, the match moved into a heart-stopping last minute. Another incredible three from 'El Chacho' and a free throw from Llull left the clash at 81-84 with 20 seconds to go, after a turnover by Shved. On the following play, Llull missed two three-point shots to tie the game at 84 apiece. Rodríguez hit the mark with a free throw, but a basket from Rice, the away team's outstanding performer, ensured an 82-85 final scoreline.

Match details
REAL MADRID 82 (22+20+21+19): Llull (13), Carroll (10), Rudy (9), Reyes (10) and Ayón (14) -starting five — Doncic (-), S. Rodríguez (17) Nocioni (0), Thompkins (7), Hernangómez (-), Maciulis (0) and Taylor (2).

KHIMKI 85 (24+20+23+19): Rice (18), Koponen (6), Honeycutt (2), Monia (11) and Davis (9) -starting five — Shved (13), Dragic (4), Augustine (12), Vyaltsev (6), Todorovic (4), Ilnitskiy (0) and Pateev (-).