In a critical battle in the fight to reach the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs, Khimki Moscow Region downed visiting Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul 82-68 at Arena Mytishchi on Friday.
Both teams now have 13-15 records, but Khimki took over seventh place from Fenerbahce due to having won this game by a single point more than it lost when they played in Istanbul earlier in the season. Alexey Shved led the winners with 23 points. Jonas Jerebko and Devin Booker each added 15 while Thomas Robinson had 10 for Khimki. Ali Muhammed led Fenerbahce with 13 points, while Nando De Colo and Derrick Williams added 11 and Joffrey Lauvergne 10. In fact, Lauvergne scored Fenerbahce's first 10 points before Shved and Janis Timma buried 2 three-pointers apiece as Khimki surged in front 26-18 after 10 minutes. Fenerbahce rallied in the second quarter behind Muhammed, Luigi Datome and De Colo to lead 35-40. Shved's buzzer-beater, however, restored a 41-40 Khimki edge at the break, after which Robinson and Booker keyed an improved defense and Khimki took a 64-54 edge after 30 minutes. Shved and Stefan Jovic kept the margin high as the teams battled for the tie-break advantage that Robinson gave his team on the game's last basket.
Lauvergne got Fenerbahce going with consecutive dunks. Booker answered with a two-handed slam and Shved added a triple but Lauvergne singlehandedly kept the guests ahead, 5-8. Timma and Shved each struck from downtown for Khimki's first lead, 11-8. Jan Vesely's three-point play tied it for Fenerbahce at 13-13. Robinson's put-back and Timma's second three-pointer sent Khimki forward to see Anthony Gill and Sergey Karasev score around the basket for a 26-18 Khimki lead after 10 minutes. De Colo and Vesely brought Fenerbahce closer in the second quarter and Kalinic detonated a super slam in traffic. Muhammed converted a four-point play but Karasev kept Khimki up 33-29. Vesely slammed on a fastbreak, Datome hit a corner triple and Muhammed scored for a new Fenerbahce lead, 35-36. Williams capped a 0-9 Fenerbahce run with a jumper but Booker answered with a three-point play and Shved beat the halftime buzzer from downtown on the run to give Khimki a 41-40 lead. Jerebko buried a three-pointer soon after the break but jumpers by Datome and Williams meant another lead change, 44-45. Booker's next dunk ignited a 7-0 run that Robinson capped with a layup. Williams kept pacing the guests with a three-point play but soon Jerebko beat the shot clock with a step-back jumper that boosted Khimki's lead to 55-48. Muhammed and De Colo tried to change things for Fenerbahce but Shved and Booker gave the hosts their first double-digit lead, 64-54, after 30 minutes. Shved hit his fifth three-pointer and Jerebko a backdoor before Booker downed a hook shot and Jovic a triple to break the game open 74-57 with 6 minutes left. A battle for the tie-breaker started then, based on Fenerbahce's win over Khimki by 13 points in Istanbul. Shved followed a layup with a jumper for a 78-62 score with 4 minutes left. Muhammed sank a three-pointer but Jerebko restored a 15-point Khimki lead, 80-65. De Colo and Kalinic combined for 3-of-4 free throws late, but Robinson scored at the other end as Khimki won the tie-break advantage as well as the game.
Shved provided the fireworks from downtown but Jerebko was solid in many aspects of the game. He finished with 15 points on 4-for-5 two-point, 1-for-3 three-point and 4-for-4 free-throw shooting to go with 9 rebounds, 2 assists and 5 fouls drawn for a performance index rating of 27, a new personal best.
Fenerbahce trailed 60-54 late in the third quarter but Booker stepped up with 4 quick points to give Khimki a double-digit lead for the first time, 64-54, after 30 minutes. Booker kept scoring, getting help from downtown from Shved and Jovic to boost Khimki's lead to 74-57, enough to seal the outcome.
Shved dished 6 assists and broke the 600-mark in his career. Shved, an accomplished scorer, now ranks 18th overall in assists at 603. No other player who ever wore Khimki's jersey has dished more assists in the EuroLeague. Zoran Planinic ranks 23rd at 559 and Jovic is 28th with 538, after getting 7 assists tonight.
Did you notice?
Khimki rebounded better and took a better care of the ball, too. Khimki outrebounded Fenerbahce by 34-26, allowing the guests to get just 5 offensive boards. Khimki had 22 assists and only 11 turnovers, much better numbers than Fenerbahce's 15 assists and 12 turnovers.
Both teams return to action at home in Round 29 next Friday, March 13. Khimki hosts FC Bayern Munich at 18:00 CET. Half an hour later, at 18:30 CET, Fenerbahce takes on visiting Panathinaikos OPAP Athens.