Week 17 In Review: UNICS Stops CSKA, Reynolds Warms Up For Dunk Contest, Astana On Track For Record Finish

Week 17 In Review: UNICS Stops CSKA, Reynolds Warms Up For Dunk Contest, Astana On Track For Record Finish

CSKA stumbles in Kazan, Lokomotiv outlasts Khimki, Jalen Reynolds gets ready for the dunk contest.

UNICS defeats CSKA for the first time since June 2016

Of the top five teams, UNICS has had the most difficult time with CSKA, winning only three of 19 League meeting. Before Monday, the last victory was in June 2016. Even when UNICS stormed to a 22-2 regular season record a year ago, both defeats were at the hands of the Army Men. 

Nothing appeared likely to change early on at the Basket Hall as CSKA jumped out to a 15-point lead midway through the 2nd quarter.

“I’m happy we could change the course of the game when we trailed by 15 points. That was a very important moment. We were able to stay in the game. We kept playing defense and played smarter.” This was Dimitris Priftis’ first victory over CSKA as a coach.

The win came courtesy of Pierria Henry. The guard was clutch in the 4th quarter (12 points), including several big baskets down the stretch that sent the Army Men back to Moscow in a bad mood. 

Loko takes revenge on Khimki for playoff loss

Lokomotiv finished the regular season in 3rd place last season, but met Khimki in the first round, where it lost the series and failed to reach the Final four. Krasnodar took revenge at the first opportunity. 

The game was very closely contested, featuring 11 lead changes and four ties. Dorell Wright, recently picked for the Three-Point Contest, hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with a minute and change remaining to give Loko the win, 84-82. No one else would score down the stretch.

Khimki had a chance to force overtime. Trailing by two, the home team had 15 seconds to score after Fridzon missed a pair of free throws. But Stefan Markovic decided to go for the win, launching a 3-pointer from 25 feet that missed the mark. 

Several hours before the tip-off, the news came out that two Krasnodar players, Dmitry Kulagin and Dorell Wright, had been selected as starters for the All-Star Game in Moscow. Both looked terrific against Khimki: Dmitry nearly recorded a triple-double (17 points, eight rebounds, eight assists) and Dorell knocked down four of six from beyond the arc

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📹 В английском языке есть слово effort (усилие, напряжение, борьба), которым часто пользуются баскетболисты и тренеры команд. Это слово, этот «эффорт» в полной мере отражает не только концовку игры с «Химками», но и ход всего матча. «Локо» добыл победу в борьбе на каждом сантиметре площадки, и это буквально! Пот, жесткие столкновения, нетривиальные решения — это всё важные составляющие успеха. Посмотрите сюжет, который мы привезли из Подмосковья и еще раз переживите эти эмоции! #lokobasket #lokofamily #lokonation

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Jalen Reynolds is ready for the Slam Dunk Contest

Zenit St. Petersburg was not a very nice guest in Minsk, dismantling the Dragons in a game in which they led by as many as 27 points. Jalen Reynolds was the best player on the court for St. Petersburg, finishing with 24 points and eight rebounds. 

The Zenit center even managed to warm up for the Slam Dunk Contest in Moscow. He started by dunking twice on Dmitri Paliashchuk: 

Before whipping out the windmill:

Zielona Gora breaks team record for points in the League

Zielona Gora won its 4th game in the League in style, dropping 108 on Avtodor, a new team record in the League. The newcomers’ previous best had been 84. 

It’s not to say Avtodor played poorly. Evgeny Pashutin’s men scored 100 points and only committed 11 turnovers. Everything was just falling for Zielona Gora. Przemyslav Zamojski’s four-point play to end the 3rd quarter is a good example: 

The Poles finished with 16 3-pointers, the third-most of any team this season in the League.

Astana expecting to have its best season ever?

Zielona Gora failed to build on its momentum, losing two days later in Astana, 84-70. Astana coach Emil Rajkovic said he was “proud of his guys.” 

He has plenty of reasons to smile. Astana has already won 10 games, which last happened in the 2014-15 season. They need five more wins over the final 10 games of the season to finish with the best regular-season record in team history. The remaining schedule is no cakewalk, but going .500 the rest of the way and finishing with 15 wins is not inconceivable. 

At the same time, Astana has its sights set on more than just the postseason. The Kazakhs only trail 4th-place Lokomotiv-Kuban by one game. 

Kalev returns to playoff zone

Kalev Estonia took advantage of Avtodor’s back-to-back losses (vs. Astana and Zielona Gora), defeating Enisey 109-91 to move into 8th place. The win was especially valuable considering Enisey is another prime contender for the final playoff spot. 

Like the rest of the action this week, the game was high-scoring. Enisey was good on offense, but Kalev was nearly unstoppable, finishing one point shy of its team record with 109 points. The Estonians scored 110 points on Nizhny Novgorod in the 2014-15 season.

Team of the week

Not surprisingly, Kalev point guard Branko Mirkovic earned a spot on the team of the week, recording a double-double with 19 points and 12 assists.

Loko guard Dmitry Kulagin also made it in, posting 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists to lead Krasnodar past Khimki. 

Pierria Henry had a phenomenal 4th quarter vs. CSKA and gave UNICS a win over one its biggest rivals. 

Zeljko Sakic, meanwhile, was a big factor in Zielona Gora’s pretty victory vs. Avtodor: 19 points and 14 rebounds.

Finally, Ken Horton was unstoppable in Astana’s win over the League newcomers: 21 points, 11 rebounds, 6-6 from the field.