VTB United League
Khimki defeated Astana on the road, 90-87 (22-15, 24-13, 18-27, 26-32).
Astana: Ousman Krubally (29+13 reb), Dimitrios Katsivelis (14+7 reb), Ian Miller (12+9 ast), Rob Lowery (10+11 ast)
Khimki: Alexey Shved (23+7 ast), Jacob Pullen (21), Nobel Boungou-Colo (13+6 reb)
Thanks to Avtodor’s loss in Krasnoyarsk on Sunday, Astana clinched a spot in the postseason prior to tip-off. But Ilias Papatheodorou’s men still had an opportunity to upset one of the League’s top teams and bolster confidence entering the match-up with CSKA.
Khimki, meanwhile, needed a win to stay ahead of Lokomotiv-Kuban in the race for 3rd place and avoid a potential match-up with the Army Men in the second round.
The visitors tried to put the game away in the first half, turning a seven-point lead at the end of the 1st quarter into 18 points by halftime.
Jacob Pullen, who finished with an efficient 21 points on 5-7 shooting from beyond the arc, sparked the run with eight unanswered points. He added another pair of 3-pointers after an Alexey Shved free throw, making it 41-25 with 3:02 to play in the first half.
Down 46-28 at halftime, Astana trailed by as much as 21 midway through the 3rd quarter.
Ousman Krubally got Astana back into the game, scoring nine points, including seven free throws, in the 3rd quarter. He also had several huge rebounds and a key steal that led to a Ian Miller 3-pointer.
Down nine at the end of three quarters, Astana stormed into the lead after just three-plus minutes. Khimki was able to respond, regaining control down the stretch. But Astana and Krubally kept coming. Scoring 12 of his game-high 29 points in the 4th quarter, Krubally made it a one-point game with an offensive rebound and three-point play with 17 seconds to go.
Astana was forced to foul, sending E.J. Rowland to the line. To his teammates’ relief, Rowland sank both free throws and the home team failed to counter, coming up just short in the upset bid.
21 – Khimki’s largest lead of the game, which came midway through the 3rd quarter.
Astana: Playoff quarterfinals
Khimki: April 23 at Enisey