Lokomotiv Kuban wins to trim CSKA’s lead to 2-1

PHOTO: cskabasket.com

The challenger beats defending VTB United League champs 69-58 to grab a lifeline in the best-of-five series. Game 4 of the finals will be played in Krasnodar Friday.

Yevgeny Pashutin’s coaching philosophy rests on tough defense – something he’d had years to hone while learning his trade alongside coaching greats Dusan Ivkovic, David Blatt and Ettore Messina. Once an attentive student of the game, Pashutin – with two Eurocup titles and a trip to the Euroleague Four already under his belt – is now on the way to become a top coach himself. His winning tactics, defined simply as “hold your opponent under 60 points and you win”, proved to be working again Thursday as his team limited an injury-depleted CSKA to only 58 and won Game 3 of the VTB United League finals.

Former Charlotte Bobcats forward Derrick Brown led all scorers with 19 points and added eight rebounds, and Greek point guard Nick Calathes had another night to remember making impact in all departments with 15 points, eight assists and six rebounds. Lokomotiv’s two leaders carried the main load, spending on the bench a combined 5:58 over the course of the game.

Vladimir Micov paced the champs with 16 points on 3-of-4 shooting from long range, but seemed to lose his scoring touch inside the perimeter as he spent nine balls to make only two shots. The visitors dominated the boards (37-33), but turned the ball a lot more frequently than their opponent (16-7).

After going neck-and-neck in the first quarter, Pashutin’s men capitalized on an 8-0 run early in the second to build their first double-digit lead of the night, 31-21. CSKA was held scoreless from the field for over seven minutes before Micov made a two-point shot at 1:30 remaining in the second. The red-and-blues scored only eight points in that quarter and had difficulty containing the hosts’ offense after the break.

Midway through the fourth quarter it was all over – after Nenad Krstic’s basket, which trimmed the lead to seven (51-44) Lokomotiv went on a 10-0 scoring run that sealed the victory. CSKA trailed by 14 when Viktor Khryapa awkwardly landed on Maxim Grigoriev’s foot after a jump shot and picked up a technical foul for initiating an altercation. Baron converted only one free throw and when Alexei Savrasenko made a lay-up to cap the run, Lokomotiv’s lead grew to 17 (61:44) with 3:27 remaining.

CSKA’s response was furious as it launched a 9-0 run of its own that forced Pashutin to call a timeout with 1:32 left, following a three-pointer by Andrei Vorontsevich. In the final moments of the game the hosts kept their calm as Grigoriev and Mantas Kalnietis went to the charity stripe eight times and made six free throws to secure the win.

Game 4 starts at 8 P.M. local time Friday.