Lokomotiv-Kuban Russia defeated Astana Kazakhstan on the road, 93-83 (19-20, 30-22, 21-24, 23-17).
Astana: Ken Horton (22 + 6 reb), J.J. O’Brien (19 + 5 reb), Stephen Holt (17 + 6 ast), Michael Jenkins (14)
Lokomotiv-Kuban: Dorell Wright (30), Mateusz Ponitka (23 + 6 reb), Dmitry Kulagin (8 + 6 reb + 10 ast + 3 stl)
Lokomotiv-Kuban took a big step forward toward clinching home-court advantage in the first round with a 10-point win in the Kazakh capital. Both teams played extremely well, minimizing turnovers, sharing the ball and shooting at a high percentage. But the combo of 53 points from Dorell Wright (30) and Mateusz Ponitka (23) proved too much to overcome for Astana.
The visitors began to pull away in the 2nd quarter, sparked by back-to-back-to-back 3-pointers from Jerome Randle (1) and Dorell Wright (2). Leading 31-22 with eight minutes left in the period, Krasnodar took a 49-42 advantage into halftime.
Trailing by as much as 14 midway through the 3rd quarter, Astana cut the deficit to four, 70-66, entering the 4th quarter, thanks to two 3-pointers from Ken Horton and Michael Jenkins.
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Astana had a chance to move within half a game of 4th-place Lokomotiv with a victory. J.J. O’Brien scored nine for the home team in the first four minutes of the 4th, knotting the score at 77-77.
With four minutes remaining, the visitors held a slender one-point 82-81 lead, at risk of getting swept by the Kazakhs following a loss earlier this season at home.
Instead, Krasnodar went on a game-winning 11-0 run, highlighted by 3-pointers from Wright and Ponitka. Astana never had a chance to recover and misses out on a huge opportunity to climb the standings.
Lokomotiv is now 16-7, two games ahead of 5th-place Zenit. Astana drops to 14-10, but could still finish in 5th place by winning its final two games (including the season finale in St. Petersburg).
58 – Loko’s field-goal percentage was excellent, including 10-18 from beyond the arc (55%).
Dorell Wright. Loko’s American sniper lived up to his reputation with 30 points (season-best), 7-9 from downtown (season-best).
Lokomotiv-Kuban head coach Bob Donewald: “This was a tough game, like we expected. There were a lot of one on one battles, which also did not surprise us. I was happiest about the team spirit. Everyone played for each other. Everyone game everything they had on the court and that was the foundation for the win. I’m proud of my guys and congratulate the fans on the win!”
Astana head coach Emil Rajkovic: “First of all, I want to congratulate our opponent. Lokomotiv-Kuban is a very serious opponent. Of course, we wanted to give our fans a win. We tried. The guys competed. But we couldn’t stop sniper Dorell Wright on defense. We let him hit some big 3-pointers. As for the offense, we missed our chances. In any case, nothing horrible happened. We’ll keep preparing for our next home game vs. Enisey. We’ll keep competing!”