| Olympiacos became the Group B champion and earned top-seeded status in the upcoming Top 16 draw next week by downing Partizan 81-60 at home on Wednesday. Olympiacos finished first in Group B with a 8-2 record and Partizan was third at 5-5. Both teams were already qualified to the Top 16 before the game. Linas Kleiza led the winners with 16 points. Yotam Halperin added 14, Ioannis Bouroussis had 12 while Josh Childress got 10 for Olympiacos. Lawrence Roberts and Bo McCalebb each had 14 points for Partizan while Jan Vesely added 11. Kleiza and Bourousis shined late in the first quarter to give Olympiacos a 20-15 lead after 10 minutes. Childress and an unstoppable Kleiza boosted the hosts' lead to 36-28 late in the first half but Dusan Kecman and McCalebb brought Partizan back to life, 36-33, at halftime. An outstanding Roberts allowed Partizan to get its last lead, 44-47. Olympiacos improved its defense while Childress, Kleiza and Halperin fueled a game-breaking 15-0 run that allowed the Reds to get a 63-49 margin after 30 minutes. Olympiacos soon made it a 20-point game, 72-52, and never looked back.
Olympiacos coach Panagiotis Giannakis placed Andreas Glyniadakis in its starting lineup to stop Slavko Vranes in the early going. Vranes, however, got Partizan going with a four-meter jumper and had a big block on him. Both teams struggled to score early but back-to-back jumpers by Milos Teodosic and Halperin gave the Reds a 4-2 edge. Halperin kept pacing Olympiacos with a triple but Vesely and an off-balance layup by Roberts put Partizan back ahead, 7-8. Teodosic hit a jump hook in the paint that McCalebb erased with a reverse layup. Kleiza scored in transition and soon added free throws, as Olympiacos tried to speed up the game tempo. Vesely shined with a two-handed dunk, as Partizan kept dominating the boards with Vranes down low. Petar Bozic soon struck from downtown for a 13-15 Partizan edge. Kleiza nailed a floating jumper and Bourousis followed free throws with a dunk to put the Reds back ahead at 19-15. A free throw by Loukas Mavrokefalidis fixed the score at 20-15 after 10 minutes.
Olympiacos used twin point guards - Scoonie Penn and Patrick Beverley - and Panos Vasilopoulos to guard Vesely at small forward. Vranes and Bourousis traded jump hooks, as Partizan kept following its game plan, trying to slow down the game tempo and get Vranes involved. Bourousis made free throws and Beverley shined with a fast break dunk to boost the hosts' lead to 26-18. Partizan called a much-needed timeout and Roberts rescued the hosts with free throws and an open three-pointer, good for a 26-23 deficit. Olympiacos struggled to score midway through the second quarter and another dunk by Vesely got the guests even closer, 27-25. Nikola Vujcic sank his trademark jump hook and Kleiza raced downcourt for a fast break slam that kept Olympiacos out of trouble, 31-25. Branislav Dekic took over with a reverse layup that Kleiza erased with foul shots. Childress and Vranes traded free throws and Kleiza buried a fallaway jumper for an eight-point Olympiacos edge at 36-28. Kecman struck from downtown and McCalebb added a fast break layup for a 36-33 Partizan deficit at halftime.
McCalebb sank a driving layup immediatly after the break and free throws by Vesely put Partizan back ahead, 36-37. Olympiacos had been scoreless for more than 2 minutes until Childress hit free throws. Roberts quickly answered from downtown but a long jumper by Teodosic tied it at 40-40. McCalebb stayed on fire with an acrobatic layup and a big triple from the top of the key but Childress and Bourousis kept Olympiacos within 44-45. Roberts scored down low but Halperin downed a corner three-pointer and soon scored off a midcourt steal to force Partizan to call timeout at 49-47. Halperin kept pacing Olympiacos with another fast break layup and Childress dunked it to restore a 53-47 Olympiacos run. Vujcic sank a hook shot and an alleyoop dunk by Childress gave Olympiacos a double-digit lead, 57-47. Partizan has been scoreless for more than 4 minutes already. Meanwhile, free throws by Kleiza and Teodosic capped a 16-0 Olympiacos run. Roberts rescued the guests with a layup but Penn beat the buzzer with a triple for a 63-49 Olympiacos lead after 30 minutes.
Kleiza set the crowd on fire with a high-flying dunk early in the fourth quarter, as Olympiacos was all over the place in defense now. The Reds kept running their offense through Kleiza, as Partizan slowly improved its defense. The guests' problems came in the other end, however, as Olympiacos did not allow open shots now. Vujcic sank free throws to seal the outcome, 68-50, with 7 minutes to go. Partizan kept trying, however, as Vesely sank foul shots and the guests tried a 2-3 zone defense. Bourousis sank free throws and Beverley dunked it to make it a 20-point game, 72-52. Everything was said and done already, as Olympiacos pleased its fans with a big home win that allowed the Reds to win Group B. Meanwhile, Partizan hopes to bounce back from this loss right away in its fourth consecutive Top 16 appearance.
Wednesday, January 13, 2010