Khimki Moscow Region remained strong in the race to reach the Turkish Airlines Euroleague playoffs from Group F by beating Zalgiris Kaunas 71-76 on the road on Friday. Khimki improved to 6-6 in Group F while already-eliminated Zalgiris dropped to 2-10.
Tyrese Rice led the winners with 17 points. Petteri Koponen added 15, James Augustine scored 12 while Tyler Honeycutt totaled 10 points, 17 rebounds and 4 steals for Khimki. Edgaras Ulanovas led Zalgiris with 17 points, Paulius Jankunas added 16, Lukas Lekavicius 11 and Brock Motum 10 for the hosts. An outstanding Honeycutt had 7 first-quarter rebounds and Koponen and Zoran Dragic shined as Khimki led 17-20 after 10 minutes. Back-to-back baskets by Dragic soon made it a 7-point game. It didn't last long, however, as Ulanovas, Jerome Randle and Renaldas Seibutis combined for all the points in a 17-4 Zalgiris run that helped the hosts to a 37-35 edge at halftime. Khimki improved its defense after the break and found a go-to guy in Honeycutt, who dominated the boards and scored 8 third-quarter points to help Khimki to a 49-56 margin through three quarters. Nothing changed after that, as Khimki kept outrebounding its opponents, boosted its lead to 51-65 and never looked back.
First quarter: Koponen, Dragic put visitors ahead
Seibutis needed just 18 seconds to get Zalgiris going with a three-pointer. Augustine scored in transition and found Alexey Shved for a corner triple that gave Khimki its first lead, 3-5. Zalgiris was held scoreless for more than three minutes as a layup by Honeycutt gave the guests a 3-7 lead. Motum and Tyrese Rice struck from downtown as Khimki controlled the game with great defense in which Honeycutt played a leading role. Ulanovas stepped up with a three-point play, but a jumper by Shved gave Khimki a 9-12 lead. Ian Vougioukas fed Jankunas for a layup and free throws by Kaspars Vecvagars put Zalgiris ahead. Vougioukas dunked and matched Koponen's mid-range jumper with free throws. Dragic hit foul shots and a jumper by Koponen prompted the hosts to call timeout. A mid-range jumper by Dragic gave Khimki a 17-20 lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Ulanovas gives Zalgiris the lead
Dragic kept pushing Khimki with a four-meter jumper off the baseline early in the quarter and soon added a driving layup for a 17-24 score, after a 0-8 run. Randle stepped up with a five-meter jumper and a put-back basket that got the crowd involved. Khimki lacked ball circulation and a jump hook by Ulanovas made it a 1-point game. Shved rescued the guests with a close basket, but Ulanovas scored again in the low post and buried a three-pointer to put Zalgiris in charge, 28-26. Rice split free throws, but Ulanovas scored again and a layup by Lekavicius gave Zalgiris a 32-27 lead. Khimki could not find the way to the basket and kept committing turnovers against Zalgiris's aggressive defense. Seibutis buried a mid-range jumper that Rice improved on with 4 free throws. Lekavicius shined with a three-pointer, but back-to-back jumper by Koponen kept Khimki within 37-35 at halftime.
Third quarter: Honeycutt is everywhere
Rice banked in a running shot soon after the break and a second-chance tip-in by Augustine put Khimki back in charge, 37-39. Motum found answers for Zalgiris with a three-pointer, but Honeycutt matched that with a layup-plus-foul. Augustine kept pacing the guests with a layup, good for a 40-44 Khimki lead. Zalgiris kept struggling to score until Jankunas buried his trademark jumper from the elbow. Honeycutt made free throws and Augustine matched Lekavicius's backdoor layup with a fast break slam. Jankunas hit another mid-range shot, but Honeycutt and Sergey Monya helped the visitors make 46-52. Lekavicius split foul shots, but Koponen hit both attempts and an unstoppable Honeycutt followed a big block on Motum with a tip-in at the other end. Free throws by Jankunas brought Zalgiris within 49-56.
Fourth quarter: Khimki seals it early, cruises to road win
Augustine hit a one-handed jumper in the lane early in the fourth, as Khimki kept dominating the game with physical, intense defense. Josh Boone took over with a high-flying tip-in that made it a double-digit game, 49-60, with eight minutes left. Jankunas buried yet another mid-range jumper, but Koponen followed a three-pointer with a fast break layup that broke the game open, 51-65. Motum finished a good Zalgiris play with a fast break layup and soon added a fadeaway jumper to bring the hosts a bit closer, 55-66. Rice took over with a wild driving basket, which Augustine followed with a layup that sealed the outcome, 55-70, with three minutes left. Zalgiris kept trying, but Khimki kept full control of the game and cruised to a very important road win that kept it in the playoffs race.