Olympiacos edges Madrid 78-76 to stay alive!
The two-time defending Turkish Airlines Euroleague champions live to fight another day after Olympiacos Piraeus survived an absolute cliff-hanger 78-76 against Real Madrid thanks to 2 free throws by Kostas Sloukas with 6 seconds left. Madrid, which leads the series 2-1, rallied from 11 behind to lead 73-74 with 44 seconds left, but Georgios Printezis answered with a three-pointer that tipped the balance. Bryant Dunston led the winners with 21 points, 9 rebounds. Vassilis Spanoulis scored 17, Brent Petway and Matt Lojeski 11 each. Sergio Rodriguez had 19 points and Rudy Fernandez 18 for Madrid. Sergio Llull added 16 points and Felipe Reyes 13 for the guests. Game 3 will be Wednesday in Piraeus. A sellout crowd of 11,500 at Peace and Friendship saw Olympiacos find an early go-to guy in Dunston, who had 11 first-quarter points and got help from Spanoulis and Lojeski to give the hosts a 23-15 lead after 10 minutes. A huge slam in traffic by Lojeski soon boosted Olympiacos's margin to 31-19, although Rodriguez, Fernandez and Llull got Madrid within 45-38 at halftime. Three-pointers by Nikola Mirotic and Fernandez brought Madrid within 49-47 in the third quarter before Lojeski and Dunston stepped up to restore a 65-58 Olympiacos margin after 30 minutes. Rodriguez took over in the fourth quarter and scored in penetration for a 73-74 Madrid lead - its first of the second half - with 44 seconds left. That's when Dunston assisted Georgios Printezis for a three-pointer, after which Kostas Sloukas made 2 free throws with 7.6 seconds left that proved to be the game-winners.
First quarter: Dunston takes over early
Dunston got Olympiacos going with a wild one-handed slam. Llull answered with a driving layup which Spanoulis matched at the other end for a 4-2 Olympiacos edge. Llull struck from downtown, Dunston shined with a backdoor layup and a three-pointer by Fernandez put Madrid back ahead, 6-8. Dunston kept pacing Olympiacos with a three-point play and free throws by Spanoulis gave the Reds an 11-8 edge. Fernandez beat the shot clock with a five-meter jumper that an unstoppable Dunston matched with a tip-in. Tremmell Darden joined the three-point shootout, Dunston scored in penetration - his fifth basket in as many attempts - and Petway made free throws Olympiacos a 18-13 margin. Petway slashed for an easy layup, as Madrid kept struggling to score once Olympiacos adjusted its backcourt defense. Reyes stepped up with free throws but Spanoulis fed Lojeski for a three-pointer that allowed Olympiacos to get a 23-15 margin after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Madrid tries, Olympiacos stays ahead
Fernandez swished a one-handed floater from the left wing but Spanoulis ignited the crowd with a great driving layup. Reyes answered with a put-back basket but Madrid could not get Rodriguez involved due to Mardy Collins's great on-the-ball defense. Sloukas made free throws before a second-chance basket by Collins gave the Reds a 30-19 margin. Lojeski lifted the crowd off its feet with a huge slam in traffic which made Madrid call timeout at 32-19. After that, Rodriguez found his first points, before a fastbreak layup by Georgios Printezis restored a 34-22 Olympiacos lead. Fernandez nailed a triple, Cedric Simmons and Reyes exchanged free throws and Spanoulis hit a step-back jumper upped the difference to 38-27 lead. A stop-and-pop jumper by Rodriguez and a basket by Reyes cut the difference to 38-31 before free throws by Ioannis Papapetrou and a huge dunk by Dunston restored the 11-point difference, 42-31. Rodriguez banked in an off-balance shot and Llull dropped a three-pointer to give Madrid hope at 45-38 going into halftime.
Third quarter: a back-and-forth battle!
Both teams struggled to score after the break until Llull soared with an acrobatic three-point play. Olympiacos went scoreless for more than 2 minutes but Spanoulis stepped up with a driving basket. A corner three-pointer by Nikola Mirotic brought Madrid as close as 47-44, but Spanoulis scored again in penetration. Although Fernandez did better with a bomb from downtown, Petway matched him and Lojeski made a free throw to give the Reds some fresh air at 53-47. Lojeski hit a technical free throw and Spanoulis matched Darden's fastbreak slam with a long two-pointer. Llull sank an off-balance shot that Dunston answered with a layup-plus-free throw good for a 59-51 Olympiacos lead. Rodriguez nailed a mid-range shot, Dunston shined with a tip-in and Lojeski nailed more free throws that restored a 63-53 Olympiacos margin. Fernandez sank foul shots, Simmons dunked and Llull buried a big triple that brought Madrid within 65-58 after 30 intense minutes.
Fourth quarter: Reds at the wire!
Rodriguez shined with an outstanding driving layup early in the fourth quarter. Petway answered from downtown but Olympiacos had troubles to find a scoring reference with Dunston and Spanoulis resting on the bench. Madrid found a go-to guy in Reyes, who buried a rainbow jumper and soon added a three-point play to bring Los Blancos as close as 68-65 with 6 minutes left. Spanoulis and Dunston returned to the floor but Olympiacos kept struggling to score when it mattered most. The game had turned into a physical battle and a layup by Rodriguez made it a one-point game, 68-67. Spanoulis and Rodriguez traded triples, Dunston scored around the basket and Mirotic finished a second-chance Madrid offense with a reverse layup for a 73-72 score in the next-to-last minute. Rodriguez completed the guests' comeback with a daring layup at 73-74 with 44 seconds left. A long 23 seconds later, Dunston passed out to the perimeter, where Printezis swished a go-ahead three-pointer that raised the roof. At 76-74, Reyes split free throws but Petway missed both of his attempts. His team down 76-75, Rodriguez drew a foul and made 1 of 1 to tie it 76-76 with 9.9 second left. Sloukas was next to the foul line, hitting both shots for a 78-76 Olympiacos lead with 7.6 seconds remaining. Llull drew a foul, missed both attempts - the second on purpose - but Madrid could not get a shot up in time, allowing all Olympiacos fans to celebrate a big home playoffs win!
Monday, April 21, 2014