Khimki Moscow Region defeated UNICS Kazan at home, 78-65 (15-12, 17-17, 27-14, 19-22).
Khimki: Alexey Shved (24 + 5 ast), Tony Crocker (13 + 6 reb), Jordan Mickey (13)
UNICS: Errick McCollum (12), Jamar Smith (12 + 5 reb)
Alexey Shved put up a cool 24 and the Khimki defense forced 17 turnovers while limiting the visitors to 36% shooting in an impressive win at home.
True to expectations, the game was scrappy and physical, reflecting the style of the two Greek coaches, Georgios Bartzokas and Dimitris Priftis.
At halftime, the score was 32-29 in Khimki’s favor, as neither team could find its rhythm on offense.
That changed in the 3rd, at least for Khimki. Moscow Region lit up Kazan’s defense for 27 points, led by Jordan Mickey and Alexey Shved.
After Mickey scored the first four points of the quarter, UNICS sharpshooter Errick McCollum sandwiched a Shved 3-pointer with two triples of his own, keeping the visitors within four, 39-35.
But turnovers on each of the next five possessions derailed Kazan’s momentum and Khimki took advantage, running up a 52-35 lead.
Mickey put the exclamation point on the run, scoring seven unanswered, starting with a soaring alley-oop from Shved and ending on a back-breaking triple that made it a 17-point game.
UNICS never quit, despite trailing by double digits the rest of the way. With two minutes to go, Kazan guard Anton Ponkrashov converted a four-point play to cut the deficit to 10, 72-62. After Khimki missed at the other end, Evgeny Kolesnikov had a chance to make it a seven-point game, but his 3-pointer was off the mark and Khimki closed out the win comfortably.
The victory lifts Moscow Region to 5-0, the first team in the League with five wins and sole possession of 1st place.
UNICS, meanwhile, drops to 3-1 and into a tie for 3rd place with rival Lokomotiv-Kuban.
2,217 – The battle for the all-time VTB United League scoring title. After Lokomotiv’s Vitaly Fridzon recorded a quiet three points on Saturday, Alexey Shved stormed back into 1st with 24 points. He now holds a 14-point advantage (2,217 to 2,203).
Khimki head coach Georgios Bartzokas: “I want to congratulate the players and fans on the win. This was a very tough game after a difficult trip to Milan and back-to-back losses in the EuroLeague by one point. It’s not easy to go through such unpleasant defeats. We had less time to prepare for this game than UNICS. Only one day. Not four, like our opponent. The win was very important. We did a good job defending the paint, where our defense was top-notch. That’s why we kept UNICS from shooting a high percentage, which they’re usually known for. At times, the difference in the score was close to 20. I want to express my respect for UNICS. They have a very good team, deep roster and excellent coach. We keep going. We have a very important game coming up in the EuroLeague vs. Gran Canaria in Mytischi.”
UNICS head coach Dimitris Priftis: “First of all, congratulations to Khimki on the win. In a couple words, our problem was the beginning of the 3rd quarter, which we entered with the totally wrong approach. We started committing easy turnovers and gave Khimki the opportunity to score easy points. We didn’t use our advantage in fouls. We needed to play better defense. Khimki created a big advantage very quickly and it was very difficult to catch them. Our two-point field-goal percentage let us down. It was only 34%.