Star guard Alexey Shved deserved the headlines for his fantastic performance in Khimki Moscow Region's 102-94 victory over Real Madrid on Thursday night, but the winners might not have gotten the job done without a couple of unsung heroes: Jeremy Evans produced 9 points – including a pair of big dunks – 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in 19 minutes; Sergey Karasev totaled 10 points on near-perfect shooting, 2 assists and 4 fouls in 16 minutes. However, numbers don't tell the true story of their contributions.
After trailing by as many as 15 points, Real had closed the gap to 8 a few times in the third quarter before Janis Timma struck a three-pointer to make it 75-64. Seconds later, on a play that finished with a missed three by Real's Jaycee Carroll, the visitors' Gabriel Deck collided with Khimki's Devin Booker and the latter had to be helped off the floor with what appeared to be a knee injury.
Booker had been Khimki's second-most productive player to that point with 15 points and losing him could have been a blow to the hosts that Real capitalized on. Especially since Karasev, who had played a key role on defense, had foul trouble and could have found himself out of the game soon. Except, Evans came in for Booker and wouldn't let that happen. And Karasev never committed that fifth foul.
Evans's first touch of the ball was an offensive rebound and, even though it did not result in points, it let Walter Tavares and Jordan Mickey know that he would be battling hard. Then Deck made a three, but Evans took a pass from Stefan Jovic to drill a three of his own and Khimki held on to an 80-69 advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Real had the ball first and missed. Evans was there to get the rebound. Then, since Shved was resting, Karasev took charge on offense. He scored 8 points and assisted Anthony Gill on 2 others in a 13-0 run. Evans and Karasev teamed with Jovic, Gill and Timma to keep Real without points for 4 minutes, all but wrapping up the victory.
The visitors rallied late to make the final score more respectable, but there is no arguing that Khimki had won decisively. If Shved and Booker were the headliners for the first 30 minutes, Evans and Karasev were the unsung heroes who put the game on ice.