Real Madrid stayed undefeated in Top 16 Group F and got closer to the Quarterfinal Playoffs by downing Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 98-79 in front of 11,800 fans at Palacio Vistalegre in the Spanish capital on Thursday night. Madrid improved to 3-0 and will clinch a playoff spot if it beats Maccabi in Tel Aviv in Week 4 and Barcelona downs Alba in Berlin. Meanwhile, Maccabi dropped to 1-2, is third in Group F and needs to bounce back from this road loss right away to keep its playoff hopes alive. Louis Bullock paced the winners with 24 points, the most he had in a Euroleague game since January 2006. Alex Mumbru and Sergio Llull each added 13, Felipe Reyes had 12 while Tomas Van den Spiegel contributed 10 for Madrid. Carlos Arroyo led Maccabi with 21 points, Lior Eliyahu added 20 on 10-for-11 two-pointers while D'or Fischer had 12 for the guests. Maccabi overcame an early deficit, as an outstanding Arroyo gave the guests a 11-16 margin. Bullock brought Madrid within 18-20 after 10 minutes while a dunk by Van den Spiegel gave the hosts a 28-26 edge. Reyes, Marko Tomas and a wild triple by Hervelle boosted Madrid's lead to 42-36 at halftime. An unstoppable Bullock simply took over late in the third quarter to improve the hosts' lead to 70-61 after 30 minutes and Maccabi was not able to change things in the fourth quarter.
Maccabi coach Pini Gershon shocked everyone by placing Charles Gaines in the starting lineup. He got Maccabi going with a tip-in but a jumper by Bullock tied it at 2-2. Reyes took over with a fast break layup while Mumbru struck from downtown for a 7-2 Madrid lead. Omri Casspi shined with a fast break dunk that Fischer followed with an alleyoop layup to get Maccabi within 7-6. Reyes sank free throws but Casspi answered from downtown and Arroyo added a driving layup to make Maccabi regain a 9-11 edge. Arroyo capped a 2-11 run with a jumper, as Mumbru stepped up with a put-back layup. Madrid improved its ball circulation with Pepe Sanchez on court but free throws by an unstoppable Arroyo made it a five-point game, 11-16. Bullock buried a catch-and-shoot triple but Fischer silenced the crowd with an alleyoop dunk. Bullock made 4-for-4 foul shots but an off-balance basket by Eliyahu restored a 18-20 Maccabi lead at the end of the first quarter.
Quinton Hosley simply took over with a wild alleyoop dunk early in the second quarter while Van den Spiegel added a jump hook, but Eliyahu scored around the basket and dunked it to keep Maccabi ahead, 22-24. Bullock shined with a layup but Eliyahu banked in a close jumper. Van den Spiegel kept pacing Madrid with free throws and a two-handed dunk, good for a 28-26 edge. Madrid called timeout and improved its defense right away. Meanwhile, Eliyahu scored in transition but Marcus Brown picked his third foul. Reyes hit his trademark jumper from the top of the key but an alleyoop dunk by Gaines kept Maccabi as close as 31-30. Tomas buried a corner triple while an alleyoop dunk by Hervelle boost the hosts' lead to 36-30. Eliyahu and Llull traded jumpers but free throws by Arroyo kept Maccabi within 38-34. Free throws by Sanchez and Arroyo, as well as a buzzer-beating triple by Hervelle fixed the halftime score at 42-36.
Fischer and Mumbru traded easy layups immediately after the break. Arroyo nailed a three-pointer off the dribble but Jeremiah Massey beat the guests' matchup defense with a power layup. Fischer made free throws but Bullock answered from downtown for a 49-43 Madrid lead. Fischer kept pacing Maccabi with a dunk that Massey copied in the other end. Felipe hit foul shots that Arroyo bettered with a layup-plus-foul to keep the guests within 53-48. Maccabi had entered the foul bonus and Bullock made the most out of it with free throws. Derrick Sharp nailed his trademark corner triple that Mumbru matched with an unbelievable three-point play. Bullock took over with a fast break layup but Fischer answered from downtown to bring Maccabi back to life, 60-54. Van den Spiegel hit a hook shot while Mumbru added a seven-meter bomb to break the game open, 65-54. Sharp and Bullock traded triples - with some trash talking along the way - while Arroyo got Maccabi within 68-59. Reyes made foul shots while Eliyahu beat the buzzer with a big basket for a 70-61 score after three quarters.
Bullock - who else? - struck from downtown over Fischer to break the game open, 73-61, early in the fourth quarter. Eliyahu tried to ignite the guests' comeback with a layup, as Madrid now tired to run the game clock down. Gaines scored in transition to give Maccabi some jope, 73-65. Hosley dunked it, however, as the hosts kept following their game plan. Van den Spiegel sank free throws that Sharp bettered with his third three-pointer to keep Maccabi in the game midway through the fourth quarter. Hosley made foul shots while Llull added an eight-meter bomb that sealed the outcome, 82-71, with 4 minutes to go. Eliyahu scored again in transition but Llull answered from downtown to send the crowd to their feet, 85-73. Arroyo took over with a driving layup, as both teams fought for points differential now. Reyes sank a turnaround jumper before Tomas buried a circus shot from downtown. Llull buried his third triple in this period, allowing Madrid to get a big home win that sent the Whites closer to the playoffs.
Thursday, February 12, 2009