Nizhny Novgorod defeated Avtodor Saratov on the road, 91-85 (26-23, 31-23, 19-20, 15-19).
Avtodor: Trae Golden (19 + 6 reb + 7 ast), David Kravish (16 + 10 reb), D.J. Newbill (15), Boris Savovic (14), Perrin Buford (12)
Nizhny Novgorod: Evgeny Baburin (21 + 5 reb), Vladimir Dragicevic (17 + 7 reb), Christopher Czerapowicz (13), Georgy Zhbanov (10 + 6 reb + 9 ast), Dmitry Uzinsky (10 + 6 reb)
Nizhny Novgorod dealt Avtodor’s postseason hopes a crushing blow on Sunday, while moving within a game of 6th-place Astana with the win.
The visitors enjoyed impressive balance (five players in double digits) and another sensational outing from Georgy Zhbanov, who flirted with a triple-double and opened the game with this sick play.
Отличное начало матча от Георгия Жбанова 👌
Perfect start of the game by Georgy Zhbanov 👌 pic.twitter.com/dyU9IDghVm
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) April 14, 2019
Nizhny Novgorod was in control most of the first half. An early 9-2 run, started by a Zhbanov layup, broke open a 13-13 tie.
The visitors would never trail again, though the game was far from over.
D.J. Newbill hit a three for Avtodor that cut the deficit to three, 26-23, at the end of the 1st quarter. For most of the 2nd, the home team trailed by a couple of possessions.
But Nizhny closed the half on another 9-2 run, including a 3-pointer from leading scorer Evgeny Baburin, which put Zoran Lukic’s men in front by double digits for the first time in the game (57-46).
The visitors led by as much as 14 in the second half and never let Avtodor get closer than seven until the final minutes.
David Kravish gave the home team a sliver of hope down the stretch, knocking down a jumper and two free throws to cut the deficit to four, 89-85. But Baburin sealed Nizhny’s victory with two free throws on the next possession, helping the visitors take the Volga derby and improve to 13-10. The victory also officially clinched Nizhny’s spot in the postseason.
Avtodor needed a victory to keep pace with Kalev, which won earlier today in Perm. Instead, Saratov drops behind Enisey into 10th place at 9-15. Evgeny Pashutin’s men will be eliminated from postseason contention with a loss or a Kalev win.
13 – number of offensive rebounds by Nizhny (Avtodor had four). Saratov shot the ball better, but Nizhny outscored the home team 18-8 in second-chance points.
Georgy Zhbanov. Playing without Kendrick Perry, the forward took over playmaking duties, recording 33 minutes, 10 points, six rebounds, nine assists and three steals.
Avtodor head coach Evgeny Pashutin: “Tough game. This was a very important game for us with regards to the playoff race. Unfortunately, we came out soft on defense and let the visitors score 26 points in the 1st quarter. We didn’t respond very quickly. We let our opponent get a lot of loose balls and take a lot of open shots. During halftime, we made adjustments and played better defense in the second half. We won the 3rd quarter and only gave up 15 points in the final period. But it wasn’t enough to win, given the deficit was so big. The guys tried, but two key factors played a role. We gave up a lot of turnovers and lost on the glass. As a result, the visitors had 18 second-chance points, which is too many. Baburin played one of his best games, hitting five of 10 3-pointers. That’s also an issue with concentration.”
Nizhny Novgorod head coach Zoran Lukic: “This was a very important game for us, like it was for Avtodor. We had a specific game plan. We knew exactly what we wanted. We led almost the entire game and really deserved this win.”