Madrid pulls away late, clinches first place
Real Madrid clinched the first place in Group E, using a 13-2 fourth quarter run and pulling away for 99-83 win over the visiting Zalgiris Kaunas in the final Top 16 game of the season on Friday night. Madrid finished Top 16 with 11-3 record, same as FC Barcelona, but places ahead of its rival due to a tie-break advantage. Madrid will next take on Anadolu Efes Istanbul in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Playoffs starting next week. Zalgiris had a great second quarter in which it scored 31 points – club’s second best scoring output ever in a quarter in the Top 16 - to take 40-43 halftime lead, and the visitors put up a good fight for 33 minutes. But Sergio Rodriguez orchestrated Madrid’s offense, and Jaycee Carroll hit a pair of triples in a key run that got Madrid to 85-70 in the final period, paving the way to victory. Felipe Reyes scored 17 points, Rodriguez had 16 with 7 assists, and Carroll netted 16 for the winners. K.C. Rivers contributed with 12 points and 9 rebounds in victory, while James Anderson had 17 in defeat. Will Cherry scored 16 points and Arturas Gudaitis 14 for Zalgiris which ends its Top 16 campaign with 5-9 record in the sixth place.
First quarter: Electric start from Madrid
Rivers opened the scoring, and after Cherry drove for a reverse layup, Gustavo Ayon and Reyes scored inside for 6-2. A steal and a fastbreak layup from Rodriguez and a layup from Ayon made it 10-2. After a Zalgiris timeout, Ayon and Reyes capped a run of 12 straight points with second-chance baskets for 14-2 before Cherry snapped it with free throws. Reyes and Gudaitis traded baskets inside, before Rodriguez nailed a three-pointer for 19-7. Zalgiris countered through Darius Songaila and Edgaras Ulanovas scoring consecutive baskets inside, but Ioannis Bourousis had a put-back dunk helping Madrid to 21-12 lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Zalgiris rallies, takes halftime lead
Songaila opened the second quarter with a basket from close range, and after Jones Maciulis hit from long range for Madrid, Gudaits made a layup and Arturas Milaknis a triple to get Zalgiris within 24-19. Bourousis replied with a basket-plus-free throw, but Gudaitis scored inside and Lukas Lekavicius from the outside, before a layup from Songiala cut it to 27-26. After a Madrid timeout, Carroll nailed a triple, but Gudaitis scored from close range again and Lekavicius split free throws, missing the second, but grabbed a rebound and made a floater for 30-31. Rodriguez and Siim-Sander Vene traded three-pointers, before Carroll hit a floater for 35-34. Slaughter followed it with an easy put-back, but Vene hit a long jumper and Anderson couple free throws to put Zalgiris back in front. Robertas Javtokas scored a layup in the crowd and Vene buried a three for 37-43, but Rivers finished the quarter sinking a three for 40-43 at halftime.
Third quarter: Madrid gets back in control
Reyes scored inside, before baskets from Cherry and Anderson extended it to 42-47. Sergio Llull scored a bucket, and Reyes hit 3 of 4 free throws for 47-47. Madrid stepped up on defense, and went back in front with a short baseline jumper from Llull, and after Anderson hit a tough runner on the other end, Llull’s triple gave Madrid 52-49. After a timeout, Reyes scored a layup on a fastbreak before Anderson and Rivers traded baskets. Anderson hit a triple to cut the deficit to 58-55, but Madrid’s Facundo Campazzo drove for a layup and Rivers converted a three-point play to make it 63-56. Milaknis buried a triple but Rodriguez answered right back from deep. Ulanovas also hit from downtown for the visitors, but Rodriguez fed Nocioni for a layup in the final seconds for 68-62 at the end of the third quarter.
Fourth quarter: A 13-2 run breaks the game open
Marcus Slaughter opened the fourth quarter with an alley-oop dunk assisted by Rodriguez. Cherry answered with a triple, and after Carroll hit a short jumper, Cherry made a three-point play for 72-68. But Rodriguez made couple free throws, Carroll sank a triple, before Rodriguez hit from downtown for 80-70. After a Zalgiris timeout, Carroll hit another three-pointer, and foul shots from Rivers made it 85-70. Jankunas snapped a 13-2 run, trading jumper with Carroll, before Gudaitis scored from close range to cut the deficit to 87-74. However, there was no coming back for the visitors. Cherry and Anderson made baskets, but Nocioni scored from close range and long range for 95-80 before Anderson and Campazzo traded triples in the final minute to close out the game.
Friday, April 10, 2015