Lokomotiv edges Partizan in Pashutin's return
Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar captured a hard-fought 83-76 win over visiting Partizan NIS Belgrade on Wednesday night to keep its chances to progress to the Top 16 in its own hands. Lokomotiv improved to 4-5 in Group B and will play a do-or-die game on the road against Tofas Bursa in Round 10. Meanwhile, Partizan dropped to 6-3 and is locked into second place in the group. Lokomotiv was ahead for the majority of the game, and took the lead for good at the end of the third quarter. Partizan remained close until the very end, but Lokomotiv stepped up defensively in the final quarter to pull out an important victory. Mindaugas Kuzminskas led the hosts with 17 points, Will Cummings had 16 points and 4 steals, Dmitry Kulagin netted 15 points and Johnny O'Bryant scored 10 in the winning effort. Stefan Bircevic shined for Partizan with 17 points on 5-for-7 three-point shooting, Nemanja Gordic and Corey Walden scored 12 apiece, and Nikola Jankovic scored 10 for Partizan.
Lokomotiv scored the first 7 points with O'Bryant knocking down a triple. Then Sam Dekker added 6 points, including a three-pointer of his own, to help build a 16-4 cushion. Partizan replied with 3 consecutive triples - 2 from Bircevic and 1 from Gordic, but Cummings answered with back-to-back threes to restore double-digit margin, 26-15.
Gordic scored twice late in the first quarter and Walden's three early in the second made it 29-23. Fastbreak layups from Rade Zagorac and Walden got Partizan within 35-30. Late in the second quarter, Mantas Kalnietis and Kulagin hit threes for the hosts, but Marcus Paige knocked one in from downtown for Partizan and Gordic beat the halftime buzzer with a triple to make it 45-40 at the break. Partizan needed just 70 seconds in the third quarter to tie the game; Thomas sank a corner triple to make it 47-47. Thomas hit from the opposite corner to give Partizan a 50-53 edge before Kuzminskas and Cumming restored a slim margin for the hosts. Kuzminskas and Cummings continued to score baskets for Lokomotiv, but Bircevic nailed a pair of triples for the visitors to make it 61-61. Lokomotiv entered the fourth quarter with a 1-point lead and Kulagin's three-pointer that made it 70-66 was the only basket in the opening 3 minutes of the fourth quarter. Cummings had a fastbreak layup to extend the margin to 6 points and after Bircevic hit a triple on one end, Kuzminskas connected in the same manner on the other to make it 79-73. Gordic scored in traffic to give Partizan hope, but Alan Williams answered inside and the hosts prevailed.
Win or go home
The win put Lokomotiv's record at 4-5, setting up a do-or-die game against Tofas Bursa (4-5) in Round 10, with the winner going to the Top 16 and the other team eliminated. Meanwhile, Partizan now knows it will finish in second in Group B.
Loko defense wins it
The two teams were efficient offensively until the final quarter when the hosts stepped up defensively and allowed only 10 points in the last 10 minutes of the game. Lokomotiv forced 21 turnovers in the game, including 7 in the fourth quarter.
Evgeny Pashutin, the man who led Lokomotiv to the 2013 EuroCup title, returned to the team's bench with an important victory. Pashutin now has a 48-12 career record in the competition, but more importantly, kept Lokomotiv in the Top 16 hunt.
Partizan block party
When these two teams met in Round 4, Partizan set a club record with 9 blocked shots. Partizan had 7 blocks in this game, making it a total of 16 in two games against Lokomotiv this regular season.
In their regular-season finales next week, Partizan will host already eliminated Limoges CSP while Lokomotiv plays a do-or-die game on the road against Tofas Bursa.
Wednesday, December 11, 2019