VTB United League
Astana Kazakhstan defeated Khimki Moscow Region at home, 84-79 (29-16, 17-22, 26-16, 12-25).
Astana: Ike Udanoh (16 + 6 reb), Malcolm Grant (16), Leonidas Kaselakis (15), Anthony Clemmons (14 + 7 reb + 5 ast)
Khimki: Egor Vyaltsev (17), Malcolm Thomas (15 + 9 reb), Charles Jenkins (14 + 6 ast), Viacheslav Zaitcev (14 + 5 reb)
The visitors were without leading scorer Alexey Shved, and Astana took full advantage, storming to a 20-2 lead in the opening six minutes.
Though Khimki rallied several times, the Kazakh team never trailed in the contest, hanging on for an 84-79 win. Five players scored in double digits for Astana, which has now won three in a row and four of its last five.
Khimki was severely short-handed in Astana, with six rotation players missing the trip to Kazakhstan: Shved, Robinson, Gill, Honeycutt, Zubkov and Sokolov. Georgios Bartzokas was left with only 10 men in his rotation, including youth team call-ups Yakushin and Klyuev.
Astana took advantage, led by Leonidas Kaselakis, who scored 15 in the opening half. Up 20-2 late in the 1st quarter, the home team enjoyed a 13-point advantage entering the 2nd.
Khimki used an all-Slavic lineup to fight back: Pateev, Monia, Vyaltsev, Zaitcev and Markovic. The visitors began switching on defense and hitting shots to cut the deficit to eight by halftime, 46-38.
Astana responded with a dominant 3rd quarter, outscoring Khimki 26-16, including an 11-0 run midway through the period that made it a 21-point game, 63-42.
But Khimki had one more comeback in the tank. The visitors started to heat up from beyond the arc with Vyaltsev drilling three 3-pointers, while Charles Jenkins and Malcolm Thomas combined for 11 points to make it a one-possession game, 79-76, with a little more than a minute remaining.
Khimki desperately needed one more stop, but Larry Gordon had other ideas, converting a three-point play, before Malcolm Grant iced the game with a pair of free throws.
With the win, Astana improves to 6-10, moving ahead of PARMA into 7th place. Khimki drops behind Avtodor into 6th with a 9-8 record.
4-5 – Astana has won four of its last five games under head coach Mikhail Karpenko to move into playoff contention.
Astana: March 18 away vs. Nizhny Novgorod
Khimki: March 26 home vs. UNICS