Khimki Moscow Region got back to the winning ways, using a 23-3 fourth quarter run to rally and beat the visiting Zalgiris Kaunas 84-74 in Round 21 opener on Thursday night.
Zalgiris seemed in control and up by 9 entering fourth quarter, but Dee Bost and Tony Corker started, and before Malcolm Thomas and Jordan Mickey finished a big run that paved the way for Khimki win. Mickey led the way with 20 points, 9 rebounds and 2 blocks, Thomas collected 16 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks, while Crocker netted 14 points on 4-for-5 three-point shooting. Marius Grigonis paced Zalgiris with 15 points, and Nate Wolters added 10 in defeat.
Back-to-back triples from Thomas and Crocker got Khimki to 10-4 early. Crocker hit another one from downtown, but so did Grigonis on the other end, before baskets from Wolters and Edgaras Ulanovas tied it at 13-13. Khimki went on to keep visitors scoreless for more than 4 minutes, and Stefan Markovic connected with Mickey for an alley-oop dunk to make it 19-14. But Thomas Walkup hit a three late in the first, and Ulanovas early in the second, knotting it at 20-20. Another triple from Grigonis gave the visitors 23-25 lead, but threes from Bost and Egor Vialtsev helped put Khimki back in front, 31-25. However, the hosts were without a field goal for more than 3 minutes, and Zalgiris tied back the game, before Ulanovas beat the buzzer with a floater to give the visitors 36-37 halftime lead. Zalgiris used a dunk from Deon Thompson and a triple from Arturas Milaknis to extend it to 38-44, and a fastbreak layup by Thompson opened 41-49. Mickey had a layup, and Thomas a three-pointer for the hosts, but Walkup nailed a corner triple and Antanas Kavaliauskas buried a jumper to make it 47-56 after three quarters. Khimki did not go away, though. The hosts stepped up defensively once again, while Crocker scored 8 points, including a pair of triples to put Khimki in front 59-58 midway through the fourth quarter. Grigonis answered with a three-pointer, but Bost made a runner to spark a 15-0 run which included 7 points from Mickey to send the hosts to victory.
Khimki block party
Khimki had 9 blocks, tied for a season high in the EuroLeague. Eight of those block came in the first three quarters, and the last one in the opening 20 seconds of the fourth. Malcolm Thomas had 3 blocks, while Jordan Mickey, Sergey Monia and Charles Jenkins each had 2.
Khimki rallied from a 9-point deficit to take 59-58 lead, then went in front 63-61 with a dunk from Jordan Mickey. Two possessions later Malcolm Thomas drove for a basket-plus-foul. He missed a free throw, but ball bounced into Mickey’s hands who made a layup while drawing a foul. He hit a free throw to complete a three-point play, open 68-61 lead, and Khimki never looked back.
In his return to Khimki bench, head coach Rimas Kurtinaitis got his first EuroLeague win against Zalgiris, his hometown team where he also became a superstar player during the 1980s.
Did you notice?
This was eighth meeting between the two teams, and seventh consecutive win for Khimki against Zalgiris, streak started in December 2010.
Next Thursday in Round 22, both teams will be on the road. Khimki will visits Buducnost Voli Podgorica, and Zalgiris travels to face FC Barcelona Lassa.