Khimki Russia defeated Astana Kazakhstan on the road, 76-67 (17-15, 23-13, 21-21, 15-18).
Astana: Alexander Zhigulin (14 + 7 reb), J.J. O’Brien (12 + 5 reb), Anthony Clemmons (11 + 7 reb + 6 ast), Michael Jenkins (11)
Khimki: Alexey Shved (28 + 5 ast), Malcolm Thomas (8 + 8 reb), Anthony Gill (8 + 6 reb)
Khimki had an answer for one of the League’s hottest teams on Monday afternoon in Kazakhstan, riding another MVP performance from Alexey Shved (28 points, five assists) to win by nine, 76-67.
Astana had recorded three consecutive wins vs. Tsmoki-Minsk, Zenit and Zielona Gora, but struggled against Khimki’s defense, scoring a measly 28 points in the first half and finishing with only 67.
The visitors seized control with a 13-2 run to end the 2nd quarter. Tony Crocker drained a 3 to make it a two-possession game, 30-26, before Andrey Zubkov and Jordan Mickey combined for seven points to push the lead to 11.
Astana missed five shots and committed two turnovers during the stretch before Alexander Zhigulin finally converted a layup with 1:14 remaining in the half.
Charles Jenkins, however, responded with another 3 and Khimki took a 40-28 edge into halftime.
Despite trailing by as much as 19 midway through the 3rd quarter, Astana hung around. A 10-3 run to close the period cut the deficit to 12, 61-49, entering the 4th.
Astana continued its comeback with a Zhigulin triple and two free trows from Ken Horton, 61-54 with 8:27 to play.
But Shved would not let Khimki squander its lead in the Kazakh capital, unlike Zenit a few weeks ago.
The Russian guard sandwiched three free throws from Dee Bost with a pair of 3-pointers to help Khimki regain a double-digit advantage.
Astana kept coming, led by two triples from Malcolm Jenkins that made it a five-point game, 72-67, with less than four minute to go.
This time, the visitors answered with defense, shutting out Astana over the final 3:41, to squeeze out a closer-than-you-would-think 76-67 win.
6 – Astana only made six free throws in the game, equaled by Alexey Shved’s 6-7 night at the line. Without more offense from the charity stripe, the Kazakh club’s upset hopes were slim.
Alexey Shved. He finished with six 3-pointers (6-12), 28 points and five assists to once again guide his team to victory. Moscow Region remains undefeated in the League (6-0), largely thanks to their MVP candidate.
Astana head coach Emil Rajkovic: “I’m very proud of my guys. Clemmons, our leader, just returned from the US and had to play even though he’s not in the best shape. He may not have shown what he’s fully capable of. I also want to congratulate the rest of the guys, who competed no matter what and brought a lot of energy. When Grosselle got hurt, we didn’t make any more substitutions and the guys gave 100%. We gave Khimki a good fight and played well today. Congratulations to Khimki on the win. We can’t wait for our next game vs. Nizhny Novgorod.”
Khimki head coach Georgios Bartzokas: “This was an important win for us. Before this game, Astana had won three straight and was playing very well. They have a very nice team with a good coach this season. We needed to take the game seriously, if we wanted to win. That’s how it turned out: We played a solid game, showed good defense and paid special attention to Astana’s primary scorers and playmakers. The only problem we ran into was in the 4th quarter, when Astana went with a small lineup with a forward at center. They hit some 3-pointers and got back in the game, but we still won, which was important.”