Though there were just three games of Friday, they didn't lack for drama or surprises as one was decided a the buzzer, another saw a lower-positioned host win by 21, and a third proved an offensive showcase in the midst of the playoffs race. Let the EuroLeague Gurus sketch out how it all happened and who to thank for the victories.
Honeycutt saves the day
Alexey Shved led Khimki Moscow Region in scoring and Anthony Gill hit the game-winner, but make no mistake who exactly disrupted a game that was led by Unicaja Malaga or tied for all but 20 seconds and turned the tide for the home team. Until the buzzer sounded as Gill's shot fell through the net, Khimki's sole lead had lasted for a single possession back in the second quarter, which is when Tyler Honeycutt put in his first 8 minutes and 30 seconds of modest work, with 3 defensive rebounds and an assist to show for it.
Honeycutt came back with 4 minutes left in the third quarter and scored his first points of the game a minute later, a triple following a Khimki timeout that was prompted by Unicaja taking the game's biggest lead, 42-52. He followed that with 2 defensive rebounds, a steal and free throws to help cut the difference to 49-55, then led an 6-0 run to open the fourth quarter to tie it up, 55-55. By this time, every rebound seemed to belong to Honeycutt, who would collect 12 caroms altogether in those last 14 minutes, for a total of 15. Many of them were spectacular, as he rose in the middle of crowds to snare the ball well above the others. Khimki was still behind by 60-66, however, when he practically levitated for a rebound and put-back with 1:36 to play, starting his team's 8-0 finishing run to victory.
"I tried to pick it up a little bit. We were getting killed," he said after the game. "They had 9 offensive rebounds in the first half, so I knew I had to come in and give us energy, get some steals and get in transition. And it worked out for us."
Finally, after James Anderson tied it up 66-66, Honeycutt's last rebound gave Khimki the final possession of the game. It was his 13th on the defensive boards, the highest total in the EuroLeague this season and his personal high, all coming against a Unicaja team that leads the EuroLeague in offensive rebounding. He wasn't there for the final tip-in -- Gill took that honor, deservedly -- but even the game-winner knew that it would not have been possible without Honeycutt.
"Tyler is the main hero of the game," Gill said. "He got a lot of key rebounds for us and we needed that a lot."
No Brose meltdown this time around
The last time Panathinaikos visited Bamberg, last season in Round 3, it turned into a memorable game. It was Coach Xavi Pascual's debut on Panathinaikos bench and the Greens rallied by closing the game with a 0-11 run and edging Bamberg 83-84. Nick Calathes scored a late put-back for the game-winner and came 1 assist shy of a triple-double that night. In the third quarter of Friday night's game,h it looked as the history could repeat itself, at least to some degree.
Brose was up by 12 points in the third quarter, when Calathes became unstoppable, scoring 15 points by driving to the hoop, shooting from the field without a miss, and getting Panathinaikos into a slim lead. Brose, which lost seven of its last eight games going into this one, looked as if it might be on the way to another second-half meltdown. But, such thing did not happen. Up 57-55 after three quarters, Brose opened the fourth quarter with an offensive foul on Augustine Rubit. However, the hosts followed that by scoring on 14 of their next 15 possessions. That 29-10 run included triples from big men Dorell Wright and Rubit, as the hosts turned the game around.
Brose had opened the game shooting 0-for-7 from long distance and did not hit a single three-point shot until the third quarter. As such, the team needed its big men last night, and they were wreaking havoc on the Panathinaikos defense. It started from the get-go, with Dejan Musli opening the game with 7 points. Musli got the most of his minutes in that opening stretch, then Wright and Rubit took over the offensive production. Wright, leading the team in minutes played, was all over the place, battling inside while shooting 3-for-3 from long range for the game.
The space Wright created with his threes, Rubit used to simply dominate around the rims. He made 7 of 8 two-point attempts, attacking the basket with confidence, and in the process drawing 8 fouls. He finished the night scoring 26 points and looked unstoppable while playing fewer than 22 minutes. Brose finished the game with 71.05% accuracy from two-point range, which shattered its previous season-high of 58.6%. That performance fueled a 21-point win and kept alive the team's chances in the playoff hunt.
Roddy drops buckets
His nickname is Roddy Buckets, and on Friday night Rodrigue Beaubois dropped them…by the bucket load. The Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz shooting star was in irresistible form as Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade visited northern Spain, especially in the opening quarter. Only 8 seconds were on the clock when Beaubois struck for the first time with a catch-and-shoot triple – and that was just for starters. He then netted a long two from close to the right corner, penetrated into the paint to score off the glass, and went along the baseline for a one-handed floater: 4 shots and 9 points in less than 2 and a half minutes played. Remarkably, his early burst of scoring still wasn't over, with the 29 year-old quickly adding five 4 points. Then, when he'd grown tired of scoring himself, he made a steal close to his own basket, ran the length of the court and dished a nice pass to Johannes Voigtmann, who finished easily to give Baskonia a 20-11 lead. Beaubois had contributed 14 of those points to go with a steal, an assist and 2 fouls drawn.
Zvezda never recovered from surrendering that big early lead, and Baskonia gradually eased to a bigger and bigger advantage before eventually running away with a 103-84 victory. Beaubois also continued to feature prominently, adding further flurries of (Roddy) Buckets practically every time he returned to the game. He eventually finished with 25 points – the second-highest tally of his three-season EuroLeague career – after converting 11 of his 15 field goal attempts. And it's not just tonight that Beaubois got hot. He has now scored in double figures in his last five games, during which time he has made 32 of his 52 two- and three-point tries, an impressive conversion rate of 61.5%.
Baskonia is now just one game away from the playoffs places, and whether or not the Spanish team makes it into the top eight by the end of the season will depend to a significant extent on the scoring powers of Roddy Buckets.