Week 22 Recap

Nizhny Novgorod's upset in Moscow Region, CSKA's record-breaking win in Tallinn and more in VTB-League.com's Week 22 recap.

Khimki had only lost once at home prior to Sunday's game vs. Nizhny Novgorod and needed a win to keep the pressure on 2nd-place UNICS in the standings. But Nizhny has traditionally caused problems for Rimas Kurtinaitis and co., splitting the last eight meetings between the two clubs, including a win earlier this season at home.

On Sunday, Nizhny played one of its best games in recent months. Led by Dmitry Khvostov's 22 points and 10 assists, the visitors outshot Khimki from outside (Moscow Region was 3-24 from beyond the arc) and picked up a valuable 82-74 win.

CSKA extended its winning streak to 19, surpassing the record set by Khimki during the 2013-14 season.
The reigning champs won twice on the road in Week 22, knocking off Astana (92-60) and Kalev (105-78).

VEF and Kalev were looking to escape the league cellar in Friday's game. VEF entered the contest in 15th, half a game behind Kalev. The game's derby status added extra significance as the two teams put on a show for the fans. Kalev's trio of Morris Curry, Shawn King and Rolands Freimanis ultimately made the difference, leading the Estonian club to a road win (84-75), while exacting revenge for the loss in January at home.

During the preseason, Lokomotiv-Kuban was included in the league's Big Four with UNICS, Khimki and CSKA. But a 5-5 start dropped Krasnodar to 7th in the standings and quieted talk of a title challenge, at least temporarily. After an 89-77 road win over Krasny Oktyabr, it appears that Lokomotiv is back. The Railwaymen have won nine straight and finally caught Zenit for 4th place on Sunday, trailing 3rd-place Khimki by only half a game.

Comeback of the Week
Entering Sunday's matchup with Enisey, Avtodor had lost four straight in the league and suffered elimination from the Eurocup. Saratov desperately needed a win in Krasnoyarsk to right the ship.

Leading by 17 early in the 4th quarter, Avtodor appeared to be well on its way to a road win. But Enisey refused to quit. A furious comeback, capped by Alexey Vzdykhalkin's '3' in the final minute, knotted the score at 87-87. Saratov, however, hung on for the win, knocking down free throws to clinch victory in Krasnoyarsk (92-88) and snap its losing streak.

Khimki and Zenit were ranked 3rd and 4th, respectively, ahead of the showdown in St. Petersburg. Expectations were high for the top-four matchup, but Khimki shattered Zenit's hopes in the opening period, shooting 12-14 from the field to start the game. The visitors led by 21 at the end of the 1st quarter and cruised to a 103-72 win to keep a tight grip on 3rd place.

Fan of the Week

UNICS debuts in the Eurocup playoffs this week, facing Zielona Gura. Kazan used the game vs. Bisons on Saturday as prep for the road trip to Poland. After the game, UNICS center Kostas Kaimakoglou admitted that his team got surprised in the 1st quarter, trailing Bisons 20-18 through 10 minutes. But Kazan responded in impressive fashion, crushing the Finnish visitors by 54 points to extend their winning streak to 13 (110-56).

Krasny Oktyabr and Tsmoki-Minsk have played some exciting games in recent years. Entering the weekend, all five matchups between these teams had been decided by five or less points.

That would not be the case on Sunday. Volgograd is making a push for the playoffs and never gave Tsmoki a chance, outscoring the home team by 16 in the 3rd quarter to secure a comfortable 96-80 win.

Oktyabr now has nine wins and sits 9th in the standings, two and a half games out of the playoffs. The upcoming game vs. 6th-place Nymburk will be huge.

Nymburk dropped a game in Riga. VEF is 15th in the standings and had only won once at home entering Week 22. But the records had no impact on the game. VEF was solid on defense, while big man Josh Harrellson dominated on offense (25 points and nine rebounds). The Czechs dropped an 81-73 decision, but remain in a tie for 6th in the standings, two and a half games ahead of Oktyabr for one of the final playoff berths.

Vita has yet to win a single game in the league, but came oh-so-close against Kalev in Week 21, losing by a single point. On Wednesday, the Georgians hoped to get their breakthrough vs. Bisons. Instead, the Finns went on a big run in the 2nd quarter and had little trouble closing out a 77-63 win.

Records of the Week
Lokomotiv-Kuban set two records vs. Vita.

41 points in a quarter - that breaks the record of 40 points set by Enisey earlier this season vs. VEF.

24 3-pointers - also a new league best. Khimki set the previous record of 19 vs. Vita.

Not surprisingly, Krasnodar cruised in a 121-71 win at home, the team's 10th-straight win.

Stat of the Week
1,500 - CSKA guard Vitaly Fridzon became the first player in league history to score more than 1,500 points, hitting the milestone early in the 4th quarter of Moscow's win over Kalev.

Fridzon has played in the VTB United League since it was formed in 2009. He played four years at Khimki before joining CSKA in 2013.

MVP of the Week
Dmitry Khvostov (Nizhny Novgorod). The Russian national team point guard led Nizhny to a huge win over Khimki, finishing with 22 points (8-18 from the field), 10 assists and a 24 efficiency rating. 

Nizhny Novgorod head coach Ainars Bagatskis:
- In order to beat a team like Khimki, you need a few things to go your way. First of all, we had to give 100% on defense, though sometimes even that's not enough. It was today. Our opponent had open looks, but, luckily for us, they didn't make them. We had a true leader on the court, Khvostov, who got everyone going. Everyone on the court did their job well. We're happy for this win, but it's already in the past and there's no euphoria from it.

Play of the Week