Despite its many injuries and slow night from superstar Jaka Lakovic, Panathinaikos registered a big road win in Group C by downing Pau-Orthez 67-82 on Wednesday. Panathinaikos improved to 5-1 in the Group C standings, good for at least a share of first place. Pau dropped 1-5 and will need to start winning right away to reach the Top 16. Mike Batiste led the winners with 25 points on 10-for-15 shooting and 5 of 6 free throws. Vassilis Spanoulis added 17 points on 10 of 10 free throws, while Dimitris Diamantidis had 11 points and Kostas Tsartsaris 10 for Panathinaikos. Lonnie Cooper scored 12 points for Pau while C.C. Harrison, T.J. Lux and Artur Drozdov each had 11. Cooper, Brooks Sales and Drozdov shined in the early going, leading Pau to a 22-7 lead, but Panathinaikos reacted with experience and know-how to go ahead 42-44 at halftime. Diamantidis helped the Greens extend the margin to 58-62 after 30 minutes, while Spanoulis, Batiste and a defense that limited Pau to 4 points in almost 7 minutes of the final quarter did the rest. Panathinaikos played without centers Dejan Tomasevic and Patrick Femerling, who were joined on the injured list by forward Fragiskos Alvertis.
Artur Drozdov shined early with a big block on defense and a driving layup in attack to which Sales added a short jumper for a 4-0 Pau lead. Tsartsaris nailed a triple which Sales matched with one from downtown to start an amazing three-point festival. Cooper and Harrison joined the long-distance show to give Pau a 13-5 margin after 4 minutes. Batiste tried to change things with a mid-range jumper, but Thierry Gadou nailed another three for Pau. The crowd went mad once Cooper fired in another from the arc to make it a 15-point game, 22-7. Batiste tried to change things with a fastbreak layup but T.J. Lux added 3 more points, this time on a basket-plus-free throw, as Pau stayed ahead 25-12. Nikos Hatzivrettas made free throws for Panathinaikos and Diamantidis added an acrobatic three-point play to fix the score at 27-17 after 10 minutes.
Spanoulis brought Panathinaikos within 27-21 with a driving layup and free throws to open the second quarter. Lux and Tsartsaris exchanged baskets but Dusan Sakota made it a three-point game, 29-26, with a big triple for the Greens. Drozdov answered him from downtown and Thierry Rupert added free throws, but Panathinaikos was on the right track now. Batiste and Spanoulis combined for 6 quick points to tie the game at 34-34, forcing Pau to call timeout. Nothing changed after that, as Spanoulis made free throws and Diamantidis slashed for a layup that capped a 0-10 run with the visitors ahead 34-38. Pau's scoreless spell lasted almost 4 minutes, until Cooper nailed a three-pointer. When Harrison made free throws, Pau had its lead back, 39-38. Cooper had time for another three-pointer, but Spanoulis and Hatzivrettas made 2 foul shots apiece while Batiste nailed a jumper to give Panathinaikos a 42-44 halftime lead.
It took Pau just 20 seconds after the break to regain the lead on a corner triple by Drozdov, but Hatzivrettas matched that for a 45-47 Panathinaikos edge. Batiste took over with a left-handed jump hook and an outstanding dunk in traffic to make it a six-point game, 46-52. Gadou worked well to get a basket in the low post that Tsartsaris erased with a put-back layup. The game turned into a low-scoring, physical battle and Pau made the most of it, as Lux made free throws and Rupert scored inside for a 52-54 board. Tsartsaris and Xane D'Almeida exchanged corner threes to fire up the crowd, but Diamantidis followed free throws with a basket-plus-foul shot to put Panathinaikos back in charge, 58-62, after 30 minutes.
Spanoulis opened the fourth quarter with a pull-up jumper that Sakota followed with a finger-roll layup as Pau was shut down by the Panathinaikos defense. Harrison tried to change things with a driving layup but Jaka Lakovic banked in a seven-meter triple, his first points of the game. Drozdov responded with an outstanding dunk, but Pau trailed 62-69 with 6 minutes to go. Both teams went scoreless for almost 3 minutes until Batiste and Spanoulis combined for 3 free throws for a 62-72 Panathinaikos lead. Tsartsaris had a big block on Jeff Varem before Spanoulis sealed the outcome with a corner three-pointer. D'Almeida and Lux combined for 4 quick points, but Batiste had a power three-point play to make Panathinaikos cruise to a well-deserved road win.
Wednesday, December 7, 2005