Khimki Moscow Region defeated Lokomotiv-Kuban Krasnodar at home in Game 2, 77-72 (15-23, 19-16, 21-16, 22-17).
Khimki: Alexey Shved (32 + 7 ast), Tyler Honeycutt (11 + 7 reb), Malcolm Thomas (10 + 6 reb)
Lokomotiv-Kuban: Dmitry Kulagin (19), Dmitry Khvostov (13), Chris Babb (12)
Khimki put 3rd-seeded Lokomotiv-Kuban on the brink of elimination, securing a narrow 77-72 win at home in Game 2 behind 32 points from superstar guard Alexey Shved.
The visitors dealt the first blow, racing to an eight-point lead in the 1st quarter. But Moscow Region never panicked, slowly chipping away behind Shved’s steady leadership and much improved defense.
This triple from Viacheslav Zaitcev to end the first half didn’t hurt.
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) May 26, 2018
The game was tied up, 55-55, entering the 4th quarter. Loko guard Dmitry Kulagin tried to keep the visitors close, scoring a pair of a free throws and a 3-pointer in the opening minutes, but a 6-0 run from Khimki gave the home team a cushion with five minutes remaining, one they would not relinquish.
Trailing by six, 75-69, after Tyler Honeycutt scored on a layup, Chris Babb gave Krasnodar one final chance by drilling a triple with less than 40 seconds on the clock.
But on the next possession, Malcolm Thomas pushed the lead back to five, 77-72, assisted by Shved. At the other end, Kulagin and Collins both missed 3-pointers, and Thomas sealed the win with a defensive rebound.
Krasnodar could be eliminated on Monday night in Khimki. The Yellow-Blues can put the series away in front of the home fans and avoid returning to Krasnodar for Game 4 and a possible Game 5.
82 – combined number of points scored by Russian players (Khimki – 45, Loko – 37).
— Kolinov Dmitriy (@kolinov) May 26, 2018
Khimki head coach Georgios Bartzokas:
– I want to congratulate both teams for playing excellent basketball when it matters most. Loko was very focused and determined at the start of the game, especially in the 1st quarter. Our opponent played very good defense and was much better than in Game 1. We managed to win three of four quarters and get the victory, which was huge. Our defense in the second half was genuinely strong; the credit goes to the entire team. We lost the rebounding battle and allowed Loko to grab seven offensive rebounds in the first half. Thanks to Thomas and Honeycutt, we improved on that number, plus we took advantage of our opportunities on offense. We’ve had a tricky season, which is especially evident now. During the game, we lost Gill, who was in a lot of pain and couldn’t continue. He’s been playing through pain for more than a month. Given the number of injured players, I want to give my players credit and thank them for this important and big win. But nothing has changed. We have another game at home on Monday, where we need to be very focused. In my opinion, the home court doesn’t provide any advantage, especially in Russia, where any team can win anywhere. We need to focused for Game 3, following the plan and compete, because competitiveness takes first priority in the playoffs.
Lokomotiv-Kuban head coach Sasa Obradovic:
– Congratulations to both teams on a good game. This was an intense game on both ends of the court and we had a chance to win. We played much better than in Game 1. We continue to believe in ourselves and are optimistic for Game 3. We’re going to look for our opportunities on Monday. Thanks to Kulagin, we had a chance to win at the end. Dmitry really played well, but at the same time I understand that he missed almost a month. In crunch time, we need to trust the players who were productive during the game. Kulagin was productive today. These types of games are very beneficial and help you become better as a player.
Monday, May 28 at 7:00 PM (7:00 MSK)
Images of the Game