UNICS Kazan defeated Avtodor Saratov on the road, 111-95 (25-33, 31-25, 37-24, 18-13).
Avtodor: Trae Golden (26 + 9 ast), Boris Savovic (16), David Kravish (16), Nikita Mikhailovsky (13)
UNICS: Jamar Smith (27 + 11 ast), Raymar Morgan (22 + 6 reb), Errick McCollum (18), Konstantinos Kaimakoglou (11 + 6 reb)
UNICS saw its regular-season title hopes dashed on Thursday by PARMA, but recovered quickly to rout Avtodor on the road, scoring a season-high 111 points.
Jamar Smith was unstoppable for the visitors, pouring in 27 points on 10-14 shooting to go with 11 assists.
Avtodor, which was recently eliminated from playoff contention, began the game on fire, scoring 33 points in the opening period. The home team led by as much as 14 early in the 2nd quarter, 43-29, after a dunk from David Kravish.
UNICS got back in the game with an 11-2 run that included six straight points from Raymar Morgan.
Despite trailing at halftime, 58-56, the momentum had clearly shifted in Kazan’s direction.
The visitors, who scored 31 points in the 2nd-quarter comeback, dropped 37 in a decisive 3rd period. Smith scored 13 of his 27 points in the period, including a 3-pointer that gave UNICS its first double-digit lead, 80-70.
Down by 15 late in the 3rd, Avtodor briefly threatened to start the 4th. Nikita Mikhailovsky’s triple cut the deficit to eight, 95-87. But the visitors grabbed two offensive rebounds on the next possessions before Errick McCollum drained a back-breaking three to put the game away.
UNICS improves to 20-5 with the victory, needing a win vs. Zielona Gora or a Khimki loss to clinch 2nd place.
Avtodor drops to 11th place, 9-16, having lost six of seven down the stretch.
63-24 – Kazan’s bench was completely dominant.
Avtodor head coach Evgeny Pashutin: “UNICS is a strong, balanced team with a fairly deep bench. We mostly took care of business in the first half. We kept their stars in check and didn’t let them run in transition, while scoring on fast breaks ourselves, especially in the 1st quarter. During the 2nd half, when UNICS started to press, our offense started to break down after working in the first half. We lost our balance, which ultimately led to the loss. Today, our young players got a lot of minutes. I think it’s a great learning lesson for them. They are already dominating at the youth level, but the game is quicker and there’s more athleticism at this level, so they still have a lot of work to do. Our goal now is to play well in Krasnoyarsk and finish the season respectably.”
UNICS head coach Dimitris Priftis: “First of all, I want to congratulate the team on the win in this game after a tough loss to PARMA. Avtodor likes to attack and scores around 100 points in almost every game. We had a tough time stopping their fast breaks, but we tried to focus as much as possible on their playmakers and apply pressure. That helped up win in the end.”