Astana Kazakhstan defeated PARMA Russia on the road, 85-80 (22-28, 26-17, 22-20, 15-15).
PARMA: Ken Brown (14 + 8 ast), Konstantin Bulanov (14), Eigirdas Zukauskas (12 + 6 reb)
Astana: J.J. O’Brien (23 + 6 reb), Anthony Clemmons (16 + 5 ast), Geoffrey Grosselle (13 + 7 reb)
Astana pulled to within a game of 3rd place with a victory in Perm as the Kazakh club looks to continue its hot play post-All Star break.
J.J. O’Brien led the way with 23 points and six rebounds and the visitors overcame an early eight-point deficit to win their fourth in a row.
PARMA entered the game in 13th place and desperately needed a win to keep its fading playoff hopes alive.
The game was closely contested from start to finish. PARMA’s Russian core helped the home team to an early 18-10 lead–Alexander Vinnik and Konstantin Bulanov each scored half a dozen–and the underdogs entered the 2nd quarter on top, 28-22.
Сила пик-н-ролла: Майкл Хамфри колотит сверху после аллей-упа от Николая Жмако ♨
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) February 27, 2019
Astana bounced back with defense, allowing no more than 20 points in a period the rest of the way.
Alexander Zhigulin sparked the visitors’ comeback, converting a pair of 3-pointers to go with a layup to put Astana in front, 39-34, midway through the 2nd.
The score remained close at halftime, however, 46-45 in favor of the visitors.
Astana tried to put the game away at the start of the 3rd quarter, going on a 15-4 run behind nine points from leading scorer J.J. O’Brien. PARMA responded with three 3-pointers, cutting its deficit to four, 65-61, with two minutes remaining in the period.
Astana remained on top by 1-2 possessions the rest of the way. The home team got as close as two, 79-77, on a Rashard Kelly layup with 3:17 to go in the game.
On PARMA’s next possession, Alexander Platunov missed a 3-pointer that would have tied the game at 80-80, and Astana went on to score four more unanswered, sealing the victory with a combination of defense and free-throw shooting.
The visitors improve to 11-6, only one game behind 3rd-place Khimki and Lokomotiv-Kuban. PARMA drops to 3-14, remaining in 13th place.
5 – number of points scored by PARMA at the charity stripe (Astana had 16). Despite tying Astana on field goals (32 each), Perm was not aggressive enough getting to the free-throw line.
J.J. O’Brien. The Astana forward played 36 minutes, shooting 9-12 from the field. He finished with a game-high 23 points, adding six rebounds and three assists.
PARMA interim head coach Viacheslav Shushakov: “The team had a plan which worked part of the 1st quarter, but in the end we weren’t able to go on top by as much as we had hoped.
The guys expended a lot of energy on defense and, unfortunately, Eigirdas committed a lot of fouls. After that, we stopped being as aggressive on defense and offense, which resulted in a more physical game where Astana felt more confident. Our guys really wanted to win, but we lacked focus in certain moments of the game.”
Astana head coach Emil Rajkovic: “This game was very important for us since it was held after the qualifying window and we didn’t have a chance to hold a full practice with the entire roster. PARMA showed the energy and commitment to win the game today. I think the team has good chemistry, which allows them to play games like this. Congratulations to my team for finding a way to win. We controlled the course of the game and attacked our opponent’s weaknesses. For example, we got Eigirdas Zukauskas in foul trouble. We also defended the perimeter, especially in the second half of the game.”