Real Madrid beats Maccabi, clinches home-court advantage
In a rematch of last season's Turkish Airlines Euroleague Championship Game, Real Madrid secured the home court advantage in the upcoming playoffs by downing reigning champion Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 86-75 in Group E in the Spanish capital on Friday. Madrid improved to 10-2 and can lock up first place if it beats archrival FC Barcelona at Palau Blaugrana next week. Maccabi dropped to 7-5 and must keep fighting to secure a playoffs spot. Jaycee Carroll led the winners with 18 points. Felipe Reyes added 16 points and 9 rebounds, while Gustavo Ayon and Sergio Llull each had 11 points for Madrid. Llull also dished 9 assists for Los Blancos. Brian Randle led Maccabi with 17 points. Jeremy Pargo added 14 points and 7 assists, while Devin Smith and Joe Alexander each scored 12 for the guests. Ayon shined early and free throws by Carroll gave Madrid its first double-digit lead, 15-4. A wild three-pointer by Rudy Fernandez boosted the hosts' margin to 27-14 after 10 minutes. Pargo and Smith stepped up for Maccabi to bring the guests back to life at 31-29. Jonas Maciulis and Ayon pushed Madrid to restore a 46-40 lead at halftime. Carroll took over after the break with 9 quick points and got help from Fernandez and Andres Nocioni to give Madrid a 66-54 margin through three quarters. Little changed after that, as Madrid held safe a margin throughout the fourth quarter and sealed the outcome long before the final buzzer.
First quarter: Madrid shines and takes big lead
Ayon got Madrid going with a layup and fed Felipe Reyes for an easy basket that gave the hosts a 4-0 lead. Brian Randle stepped up with a put-back layup, but Reyes returned the favor, feeding Ayon for a big slam. Randle scored again, before Reyes made free throws and a three-pointer by Sergio Llull boosted Madrid's lead to 11-4. Ayon and Jaycee Carroll hit foul shots, as Maccabi tried a more athletic frontcourt with Randle and Alex Tyus together. MarQuez Haynes struck from downtown, but Carroll also hit one from beyond the arc, which caused Maccabi to call timeout at 18-7. Carroll finished a three-chance Madrid offense with a close basket, as the hosts kept dominating the game with great ball movement and a dynamic, up-tempo offense. Tyus made free throws and a layup by Smith got Maccabi within 20-11. Rudy Fernandez downed a triple and bettered Tyus's foul shots with a wild, buzzer-beating, nine-meter bomb that gave Madrid a 27-13 margin after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Maccabi does not surrender
Smith hit a baseline jumper early in the quarter and soon added a layup in transition to bring Maccabi within 27-17. Sergio Rodriguez made free throws, but Jeremy Pargo followed a corner triple with a reverse layup, causing a Madrid timeout at 29-22. After Andres Nocioni hit free throws, a three-point play by Sofoklis Schortsanitis got Maccabi even closer, 31-25. Joe Alexander shined with a fast break slam and Smith also dunked to make it 31-29. Ioannis Bourousis scored down low, before Smith split free throws. A three-pointer by Jonas Maciulis gave Madrid fresh air at 36-30. Pargo shined with a driving layup, which Ayon matched with a big basket. Randle took over with a three-point play and a put-back layup to bring Maccabi within 39-37. Maciulis hit another three-pointer and free throws by Llull scored a 44-37 Madrid edge. Alexander and Ayon exchanged layups and a free throw by Smith fixed the halftime score at 46-40.
Third quarter: Madrid improves defense, extends lead
Carroll hit a one-handed jumper off the baseline – and the free throw that came with it – immediately after the break. Pargo banked in an off-balance shot, but a red-hot Carroll did better with a triple. Alexander and Reyes traded five-meter jumpers before Carroll struck again from downtown for a 57-44 Madrid lead. Randle scored down low off a Maccabi timeout. Fernandez nailed a fade-away jumper, but Tyus gave Maccabi hope at 59-48. Madrid improved its defense and started to play more aggressive once Maccabi entered the foul penalty. Reyes and Ayon made free throws, as Maccabi struggled to find the way to the basket, taking many off-balance shots. Smith and Nate Linhart split free throws and Alexander brought Maccabi within 62-52. Nocioni hit foul shots and followed that with a turnaround jumper to keep Madrid out of trouble at 66-52. Alexander hit another mid-range jumper to make it 66-54.
Fourth quarter: Hosts keep safe lead for good
Marcus Slaughter took over with a power layup early in the quarter. Linhart stepped up with a driving layup and a dunk by Randle gave Maccabi hope at 68-58. Rodriguez made free throws and Llull bettered Pargo's big basket with a three-pointer for a 73-60 advantage. Pargo answered from downtown but free throws by Reyes made Madrid regain a 75-63 margin with six minutes left. Slaughter split foul shots and Randle and Llull hit both attempts. Smith kept Maccabi within 78-66. Randle shined with a fast break slam and Alexander buried another mid-range jumper, but Reyes followed a layup with a free throw for an 81-70 Madrid margin with three minutes left. Llull split foul shots and even though Haynes buried a three-pointer, it was too little, too late for the guests. Reyes sank free throws to seal the outcome, allowing the Madrid fans to celebrate a very important win going forward.
Friday, March 27, 2015