CSKA Moscow’s U.S. tour started off with a hard-fought 108-106 victory over its NBA opposition, the Minnesota Timberwolves, but only after requiring an extra five minutes of time.
The Timberwolves didn’t get off to the best of starts, but the reserves provided a spirited fightback, turning a 18 point deficit into a four point lead with 1:17 remaining in the game. Unfortunately, they just couldn’t seal the deal in normal time as Derrick Williams’ layup failed to connect with 1.9 seconds to go, while in extra time, Othyus Jeffers’ failed to score up close with a second to go.
Failure to convert these shots summed up the game for the Timberwolves as they converted only 41.2% from the field, and 19% from beyond the ark. CSKA fared better with a 52.5% conversion rate on all attempts, which proved to be the difference.
It was Williams who had the most prolific game for the Timberwolves, scoring 21 points to go with nine rebounds, 16 of which came from the final 29 minutes. However, he will reflect on how he missed three out of four free throws in the final 1:11. Kevin Martin finished with 16 points, but shot only 5-of-15 from the field, while A.J. Price scored 14 points, 5-of-7 coming from the field.
For CSKA, it was Milos Teodosic who proved to be the difference, finishing with 26 points, five rebounds and nine assists. His contribution was vital in both forcing the game into overtime, hitting two charities, and then clinching the game by splitting free throws to arrive at the final score.
The Timberwolves’ form was inconsistent during the game, despite having pulled off a 12-2 point run near the end of the first half. Despite that run, the second half saw them struggle to get a grasp of the game, and saw them trailing 72-63 with 3:20 left in the third.
However, the unlikely combination of Price, Jeffers, Williams, Alexey Shved and Ronny Turiaf brought the Timberwolves back into the game, providing them with a 92-88 lead with 1:17 left. And while Williams put the Timberwolves up three, 95-92, with 34 seconds remaining, it was Teodosic who erased the difference with his free throws, bringing the game into overtime.
The last five minutes saw a dramatic finish as the Timberwolves then put up a two-point-lead, 103-101, halfway, but back-to-back scores by CSKA put them on the back foot. An equaliser from Price suggested that the match would see another overtime, but Teodosic’s contribution prevented that from happening.
– Quinton O’Reilly @qoreilly