Andrei Kirilenko and CSKA Moscow: Week of 3/26 (Euroleague Quarterfinals)
In Game 3 of the best-of-five, the series moved to Bilbao. The crowd was rowdy and vicious (and by that I mean the crowd was amazing), and CSKA looked discombobulated early on as Bilbao got off to an early 19-11 lead.
The officials called an extremely tight game, turning it into a completely annoying foulfest towards halftime. Bilbao led 47-40 at the break, and ran its lead up to 13 with a 9-3 run to start the third.
In the end, it just came down to Bilbao being unable to miss. CSKA shot 58 percent on two-pointers and 32 percent from downtown, but allowed Bilbao to shoot 62 percent on two-pointers and 43 percent from behind the arc.
AK scored 16 points and collected 6 rebounds in 26 minutes, but was only 3-12 from the floor. Asked about AK’s sub-par performance, Coach Jonas Kazlauskas said that he isn’t Michael Jordan and will have bad nights.
I mentioned the Michael Jordan bit because just days earlier, Kazlauskas was quoted as saying that AK is not Lebron James and he [Kazlauskas] therefore can’t play him [AK] the entire game. And I mention that because in Game 4, AK was on the bench for just 2:11 of the entire game.
In Game 4, which was the second elimination game for Bilbao, AK killed with his 3-point shooting. No, really. On a night when the rest of CSKA went 2-13 from behind the line, AK hit 4-7.
He had a relatively quiet first 1.5 quarters, but threw down two “momentum” dunks in the final minutes of the half to bump CSKA’s lead at the break to double digits.
CSKA was able to keep a 5-10 point cushion late into the game, while Bilbao again kept it a game with hot shooting.
A free throw by Bilbao’s Aaron Jackson made it a 4-point game with one minute left. The final minute of the game was a parade of free throws (with–attention Tyrone Corbin–offense/defense substitutions). Six free throw attempts later, it was still a one-point game with 7 seconds remaining. CSKA’s Milos Teodosic made two more to make it a three-point game, and a CSKA foul put Jackson on the line with 2.9 seconds left.
Jackson made the first and missed the second, but a lane violation was called. On the do-over, he tried to go for the intentional miss but the rebound was corralled by AK (pictured above), who threw the ball across the court as the final horn sounded.
AK’s performance rating (based on his line of 23 points (7-11), 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal) was again the highest in the Euroleague for the week, and he was announced as weekly MVP for the fourth time this season.
So it’s now onto the Final Four in Istanbul for CSKA.
Despite having played a key role in eliminating Bilbao from the Euroleague Playoffs, check out the reception that AK got from Bilbao fans after the game (thanks to C):
Almost an afterthought was the rare third game of the week, with CSKA facing off against Nizhny Novgorod. Nizhny Novgorod has the second worst record in the PBL and came into the game with two wins in 14 tries, and it wasn’t much of a contest. AK played just 15 minutes (entire first quarter and first five minutes of the second half) and scored 12 points, but CSKA won the game by a 44-point margin, 97-53.
Last image via PBL.