Reclaiming home-court advantage and moving within a game of victory in the Russian Superleague Finals, Spartak earned a 95-81 victory Friday at CSKA Moscow. Spartak blew the game open with a 31-20 advantage in the third quarter and held on for the win.
CSKA’s powerful frontcourt limited Lauren Jackson to nine points and four boards, but her teammates took advantage of the defensive attention paid to the MVP. Jackson handed out four assists and Spartak shot 10-of-18 from three-point range.
Leading the charge was Storm point guard Sue Bird, who made all five of her three-pointers and scored a team-high 20 points. Bird also handed out five assists and had five steals as she continued an excellent series and postseason. Bird paced a Spartak attack that turned the ball over but six times while forcing 13 CSKA miscues. Diana Taurasi added 18 points for the winners, while Ann Wauters had 21 points and nine boards for CSKA.
The all-important Game 4 will be played tomorrow, again at CSKA. If Spartak can win, Bird and Jackson (and their teammates and opponents) will be home in time to get in nearly a full week of practice before May 17 Opening Night. If CSKA wins and forces a deciding Game 5, players on both sides won’t likely be back until late Wednesday or early Thursday. So go Spartak, go!