In a tight game in which no team led by more than 6 points, KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz used its home floor to get back to winning by edging visiting Khimki Moscow Region 83-79 on Thursday night.
Baskonia improved its record to 8-13 and Khimki dropped to 9-12 on the season. The teams traded leads in the first half before Khimki spent most of the second half in front. But it was Baskonia that had a stronger finish to the game behind Shavon Shields and with a helping hand from Youssoupha Fall, Nik Stauskas and Achille Polonara. The hosts went in front for good within the last 2 minutes and not only won the game but also a tiebreaker over Khimki, overcoming a 79-76 road loss from Round 2. Shields finished with 22 points and 6 rebounds, Fall had 15 points plus 8 rebounds. Pierria Henry tallied with 10 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds and 4 steals and Polonara pulled down 11 rebounds along with 9 points in a victory. Alexey Shved finished as Khimki's top scorer with 18 points, but shot 3 for 15 from three-point range. Jonas Jerebko had 16 points plus 6 rebounds and Janis Timm and Sergey Karasev scored 10 apiece in a losing effort.
Michael Eric worked inside to give Baskonia a quick start, forcing an early timeout from Khimki coach Rimas Kurtinaitis. And the visitors responded. Jerebko had 7 points, including a baseline dunk and a second-chance triple, to give Khimki a 13-15 lead. Tornike Shengelia and Fall kept Baskonia in good rhythm, combining to score 8 close-range points, and Shields took it to the rim to make it 27-25 at the end of the first quarter. Khimki had a strong start to the second, with Karasev sinking a pair of triples in the quarter's opening 3 minutes. A three-pointer from Jerebko made it 33-38. Baskonia replied with an 8-1 run with Shields scoring inside and Ilimane Diop from the outside. Shved hit his first triple, but the hosts scored the final 6 points of the half to make it 47-44.
Khimki had a strong start of the second half with a triple apiece from Timma and Jerebko for a 47-52 lead. Shields and Timma traded three-pointers before a jumper from Shved made it 53-59. But Shields had another three and Polonara a put-back dunk to help tie it at 61-61 late in the third. The visitors kept finding ways to score from close range through Anthony Gill, Stefan Jovic, Shved, Timma and eventually Devin Booker. Stauskas hit a transition triple before Baskonia used free throws in a 6-0 run to take 72-71 advantage with 4 minutes to go. Shved knocked down a triple, but Shields nailed a mid-range jumper and Fall followed with a tip-in and a dunk to put Baskonia up 80-76 with 1:14 to go. Shved hit a second-chance triple to make it a 1-point game. Baskonia made 3 of 4 free throws in the final minute and a pair of defensive stands to celebrate the victory.
The largest lead of the game was 6 points, once for each team. Baskonia led 10-4 after 3 minutes of play in the first quarter and Khimki led 53-59 midway through the third. Each led lasted for some 15 seconds, as the other team scored right away. In total, there were 12 ties and nine lead changes in this game, the majority coming in the first half and the final 4 minutes of the game.
Every point matters
In the playoff picture, both teams are on the outside looking in. Khimki is one win behind the eighth-place Valencia Basket, but Baskonia's 1-point tiebreak advantage against Khimki could easily come into play if both teams remain in the playoff hunt.
There were 34 offensive rebounds in this game, with Baskonia edging Khimki 18-16 in that category. Baskonia also outrebounded the visitors 42-33, which ended up one of the keys in such a close game.
Baskonia attempted 38 free throws, the most by the club in almost 11 years. Khimki attempted 35 three-point shots, tied for the team-high in a non-overtime game this season. Alexey Shved fired 15 of those, making 3, while the rest of the team shot 7 for 20 from long range.
In Round 22 both teams will play on Thursday, January 30. Khimki will be at home to welcome its biggest rival CSKA Moscow, while Baskonia travels to face Olympiacos Piraeus.