Tiny Latvia beat its giant neighbor Russia Tuesday, 84-69, in Istanbul.
But in New York, the big news was that the Nets’ Timofey Mozgov outplayed his Knicks counterpart, Kristaps Porzingis, early, then watched as Latvia used their big well at game’s end ... while his Russian teammates forgot about him.
Mozgov scored 16 points on 4-of-6 shooting (no three’s), grabbed six rebounds and blocked a shot. Porzingis had 11 points on 3-of-10 shooting, four rebounds and three turnovers. He also fouled out, but helped unsettle Russia in the end.
Russia lost the game in the backcourt where Alexey Shved, the former Knick and one of the stars of FIBA Eurobasket, shot 7-of-19, including 2-of-11 from three. Janis Timma of Latvia had 22 points, shooting 5-of-10 from deep.
Mozgov got Porzingis into foul trouble early, muscling the 7’3” Knick down low and not allowing him much room on offense. Mozgov was rarely alone in defending him.
On offense, Mozgov used his strength and underrated craftiness to get inside Porzingis.
Mozgov is killing Porzingis in 1st half!!! pic.twitter.com/AJuwXmAaCk— Andrey Kartashov (@LeDr0n) September 5, 2017
SHVED TO MOZGOV ALLEY-OOP OVER PORZINGIS pic.twitter.com/YoPbEGLHu1— Alexander Chernykh (@chernykh) September 5, 2017
As Eurohoops wrote...
Mozgov had quietly done his job and let Kristaps get himself into trouble over and over until the damage was done. Now, free from the assignment, Mozgov could attack even harder. Russia weren’t taking charge, they had always been in charge. Latvia just didn’t know until it was close to half-time and they were staring up from the abyss. At the half it was Russia up 44-34 and firmly in command.
Russia was in charge and Mozgov had 15 of his 16 points, but in the second half, Latvia regrouped, led by Timma, who plays for Baskonia in Spain, and the Spurs’ Davis Bertans. And in the end, Porzingis played well before fouling out.
Mozgov, who dominated early, didn’t touch the ball much in the second half, in part because of Latvian adjustments, in part because he didn’t get it.
Timma brought the Latvians to their feet late in the quarter as his three gave them a first lead in forver. Russia were running into shot clock trouble and making nothing happen offensively. The discipline that had defined the first half had disappeared. With 10 minutes to go it was all square, 52-52.
Timma saw the space and kept on going there. This was now Latvia’s game to lose. Russia were dependent on getting to the line to keep the scores coming. Latvia had rhythm, Russia could only lean on resilience.
Porzingis returned, his side having moved into an 8 point lead, it soon became 10. Now it was time for Kristaps to get some. Latrvia were leaning on their leader down the strecth and he was getting the job done. He finally picked up his fifth with 1.27 on the clock but by now Latvia were up 11
The turnaround frustrated Mozgov, who asked post-game about the loss, responded...
Andrey Karashov of TASS reported that Andrei Kirilenko, now head of Russian Basketball, said the team forgot about Mozgov in the second half.
In the post-game press conference, Russian coach Sergey Bazarevich criticized his team’s “Globetrotter” game. When Mozgov was asked if he had any comment, he simply responded, “No.”