Olympiacos bounced back from its first loss of the season by slapping Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 84-65 at the Peace and Friendship Stadium on Thursday. Lynn Greer scored 21 for his best offensive output since burning Maccabi for 27 last season to lead the Reds. The win saw Olympiacos improve to 3-1, the same as Cibona, which defeated it in Croatia last week. Maccabi is now tied for third place with Unicaja at 2-2. The visitors were without start point guard Carlos Arroyo, who was sidelined with back pain. Maccabi nevertheless started strong and led 13-23 at one point in the first quarter, but the Reds soon regained control and without anyone to effectively run the offense, Maccabi managed just 5 second-period points as Olympiacos took a 34-29 halftime lead. It grew to 19 in the third and although the visitors never quit, they simply couldn’t match Olympiacos strength as the Reds cruised to a well-earned win. Nikola Vucic added 14 points, 3 assists and 3 steals against his former club, while Panos Vasilopoulos also netted 14 and Ioannis Bourousis posted 12 points and 9 rebounds. Omri Casspi paced Maccabi with 16 points in 18 minutes and Esteban Batista added 10 in defeat.
Both teams feed the ball inside to start the game. Maccabi started strong thanks to baskets from the paint by Tre Simmons, Lior Eliyahu and D’Or Fischer and took an early 2-6 advantage. Olympiacos answered back in the same way; Sofoklis Schortsianitis and Georgios Printezis bore offensive responsibility near the basket, but it was only when Josh Childress connected from behind the arc for his first Euroleague triple that Olympiacos sailed ahead to 7-6. Maccabi used some zone defense to keep the ball away from Schortsianitis, but the real good news for the guests came when the Reds' center had to go to the bench due to his third personal foul. Marcus Brown nailed a three-pointer for Maccabi to make it 9-13. It was only the beginning for a visitors' great run; Simmons, Fischer and Brown added consecutive baskets for an 8-0 streak and a double-digit difference, 13-23. Bourousis came in off the bench to score and Theo Papaloukas beat the first-quarter buzzer to get the Reds within 17-24.
Both defenses strengthened as neither the hosts nor the guests managed to score in the first two-and-a-half minutes of the second period. Bourousis broke the silence from three-point range and Papaloukas brought the Reds even closer at 22-24. Maccabi needed more than four minutes to score, but the incredible dunk by Jason Williams was the game's highlight. Vujcic connected twice in the row to tie it at 26-26 and Greer made a jumper to put Olympiacos ahead 28-26. The home team kept rolling with Bourousis and Greer for a 34-29 advantage before the teams left the court for halftime.
Maccabi returned to the floor with its main concern being to create opportunities to score after being held to only 5 points in the previous period. Simmons chipped in a triple to answer back to points from Greer and Vujcic. Greer fired in one from downtown and Bourousis dunked for a 43-32 lead for the hosts. Maccabi was having trouble to set up its offense. As a result, the difference kept increasing with Vasilopoulos finding an easy layup and an off-the-glass three-pointer to make it 50-32.Another triple by Vasilopoulos later on made it 55-36 for the game's largest deficit. But, Maccabi was not ready to surrender. The visitors used some free throws and baskets by Casspi to run off 10 straight points and get within 55-46 after 30 minutes.
Batista scored to make it 55-48 early in the fourth quarter before Papaloukas put an end to Maccabi’s run. Greer nailed a three-pointer, but Batista connected again in the paint. Casspi became the go-to-guy for Maccabi, while Greer had stepped up for Olympiacos. The latter added another triple and then drove to make it 69-54. Maccabi got back-to-back three-pointers by Williams and Casspi to immediately get to 70-60 with less than four minutes remaining. But Vujcic and Vasilopoulos added points to increase the Reds’ lead to 15 and there was no time left for the guests to react.
Thursday, November 13, 2008