Anadolu Efes Istanbul opened the new calendar year in the same manner it finished the last, going all out offensively to dismiss visiting Khimki Moscow Region 101-82 on Friday night.
Efes improved to a league-best 14-3 record, while Khimki dropped to 8-9 in the middle of the standings. Efes took the lead for good early in the second quarter before breaking the game open with a 20-3 run early in the third quarter, pulling away to 72-51 and never looking back. Efes nailed 16 three-pointers, but big man Tibor Pleis led the way with 20 points and 10 rebounds, including 8 on the offensive end. Shane Larkin also had 20 points, Chris Singleton scored 13, Krunoslav Simon was 4-for-4 from downtown for 12 points, and Vasilije Micic netted 11 in the winning effort. The visitors had six players in double figures, led by Jeremy Evans with 15 points plus 9 rebounds. Chris Kramer had 13 points, Jonas Jerebko and Anthony Gill scored 12 apiece, while Devin Booker and Stefan Jovic each finished with 10 points for Khimki, which was without EuroLeague's top scorer Alexey Shved.
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Efes started hot from downtown, nailing three early triples – including two by Larkin — but Jovic took it twice to the rim and then connected with Booker for an alley-oop dunk to put Khimki up 9-11 midway through the first quarter. Efes kept hitting from long range, with one from James Anderson and another from Larkin to lead 21-19 after one quarter, but a tip-in from Evans and Sergey Karasev's triple put Khimi in front for the last time, 23-26, early in the second. Simon answered with a three and a dish for Adrien Moerman's layup before Pleiss and Evans traded jumpers, and Jerebko and Singleton exchanged three-pointers. Another three from Simon helped open a 40-32 lead, but Khimki answered with back-to-back-to-back threes, two from Kramer either side of one from Anthony Gill, tying it at 41-41. Simon's three-pointer and Larkin's three-point play gave the hosts a 47-43 advantage at halftime, and the margin quickly increased in the third quarter. After Micic and Gill traded triples, Pleiss scored at both ends of a 9-0 run to open a 61-48 edge. Pleiss' alley-oop dunk followed by Simon's corner triple sparked an 11-0 run that had Efes up 72-51 midway through the third quarter. The scoring slowed down, and Jerebko netted 8 points over the remainder of the quarter to help cut it to 77-61 going into the fourth, but Efes opened the final stanza with back-to-back threes from Larkin and Micic to increase the margin to 85-63. Evans scored 5 points for the visitors, but Efes cruised before reaching the triple-digits in the final minute of the contest.
After holding a 47-43 halftime lead, Efes stormed out of the locker room to start the third quarter. The hosts scored 21 points in less than 5 minutes, including a 20-3 spurt to open a 72-51 lead. Tibor Pleiss scored 10 points in that span, while Khimki netted just 18 points in the entire quarter.
Pleiss rules the offensive boards
Efes had 13 offensive boards, just one shy of grabbing half of their 27 field goal misses for the night. Pleiss had 8 alone, tying his career high and also setting a EuroLeague season high.
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