UNICS Russia defeated Kalev Estonia at home, 76-74 (23-22, 21-14, 17-24, 15-14).
UNICS: Jamar Smith (21), Pierria Henry (10), Maurice Ndour (9 + 12 reb)
Kalev: Chavaughn Lewis (18 + 6 reb + 5 ast), Janari Joesaar (13), Kristjan Kitsing (11)
UNICS held on for its fourth win by four or fewer points in the past month, and avoided an upset loss to Kalev at home.
Kalev had a chance. The Estonians cut the deficit to two on a Branko Mirkovic free throw, 76-74, with three seconds remaining. The sharpshooter missed his second attempt intentionally and Kalev grabbed the rebound, but Martin Dorbek’s 3-pointer at the buzzer was off, allowing Kazan to escape once again with a hard-fought win.
UNICS overcame a slow start to lead 23-22 at the end of the 1st quarter, courtesy of a Melvin Ejim 3-pointer. The home team went up by as much as nine in the 2nd quarter and took a 44-36 lead into halftime.
Kalev battled back in the 3rd quarter, chipping away at Kazan’s lead with balanced offense. Mirkovic made it a one-point game, 61-60, with a pair of free throws at the end of the period, setting up a dramatic 4th quarter.
UNICS, which only scored 14 points in the 3rd, did not score until midway through the 4th, allowing the visitors to take a 65-61 lead.
Kazan was lucky the damage wasn’t any worse, but still trailed 67-63 with a little less than four minutes to go.
That’s when Jamar Smith blew the cobwebs off the home team’s offense, knocking down three triples in the final four minutes that completely shifted the momentum. The final 3 snapped a 71-71 tie, putting UNICS on top for good, 74-71, with little more than a minute to play.
Kalev kept fighting, but Dorbek’s shot at the buzzer missed, and UNICS picked up its 11th victory of the season.
48 – number of points scored by UNICS’s bench, compared to 19 for Kalev. In an otherwise evenly-played contest, Kazan’s superior depth made a difference.
Big Man Can Run
Артем Клименко блокирует и колотит сверху!
Artem Klimenko BLOCKS & SLAMS! pic.twitter.com/B3eRXfs5Fi
— VTB United League (@VTBUL) January 19, 2019