Crvena Zvezda leads from start to finish in routing CSKA
Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade never trailed in defeating defending champion CSKA Moscow 78-67 on Thursday at Kombank Arena. The hosts scored the first 13 points of the game and kept their fans involved with spectacular plays and great hustle the rest of the way.
The victory lifted Zvezda into a tie for eighth place with a 7-8 record, while CSKA remained atop the standings at 12-3 despite suffering back-to-back wins for the first time since the 2013-14 season. Ognjen Kuzmic paced the victors with 16 points, 10 rebounds and 2 blocks, Marko Simonovic added 14 and Charles Jenkins posted 11 points, 6 assists and a club-record 6 steals. Andrey Vorontsevich made 5 of 9 three-pointers to lead CSKA with 21 points and Aaron Jackson tallied 10 points and 8 rebounds, however star guards Milos Teodosic and Nando De Colo combined for just 12 points and 8 turnovers in 45 minutes.
Zvezda was near unstoppable with five baskets coming via fast break or transition, including 5 points from Jenkins, in 13-0 run over four and a half minutes to open the game. Teodosic came off the bench and buried a three to get the champs on the scoreboard. CSKA twice came within 9, but Simonovic free throws left Zvezda ahead 27-14 after 10 minutes. However Nikita Kurbanov had 4 points in a 0-6 CSKA spurt to start the second quarter. The hosts continued their comeback and got within 31-27 on a second Teodosic triple. However CSKA’s aggressive defense also led to it entering the penalty midway through the quarter and Marko Guduric knocked down 4 straight free throws to make it 38-30. Kuzmic shined with a block at one end and a layup at the other as the hosts remained in control. That sparked a 10-2 finish to the half, capped by free throws by Jenkins, for a 48-34 halftime lead. The lead got as high as 16, but Vorontsevich heated up and with his third three of the quarter closed the gap to 60-49 before Aaron Jackson’s layup got the champs within single digits. Kyle Hines converted a tough three-point play that got CSKA within 6, but Guduric put the hosts ahead 64-56 through three quarters. After a slow start to the fourth quarter, a Nate Wolters three brought the crowd to its collective feet at 67-58. The lead reached 14 on Simonovic’s three-point play and CSKA never recovered. Dunks on consecutive plays by Branko Lazic and Simonovic allowed players and fans alike to celebrate with time to spare as Zvezda marched to a spectacular win.