Regular Season Round 23: Into the final stretch!
Aside from a pair of teams registering 5-point road wins to stay in the playoff hunt, Round 23 was a successful one for the hosts. Four home teams won by a double-digit margin, Fenerbahce Istanbul made a big rally in the Game of the Week, while Mike James turned into a Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens hero with his last-second game-winning three-pointer.
CSKA Moscow chalked up its fifth straight victory in the Russian capital by defeating short-handed Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv 93-81 on Thursday night at Megasport Arena. Nando De Colo starred with a season-high 29 points as CSKA improved to 17-6. Maccabi, which was without leading scorer Andrew Goudelock due to injury, dropped its seventh straight road game to fall to 8-15. Kyle Hines set a career-high with 8 offensive rebounds en route to a double-double of 14 points and 10 boards. Sylven Landesberg paced Maccabi with a season-high 19 points off the bench.
Fenerbahce Istanbul used a 15-0 run to come back from an 11-point fourth quarter deficit and edge visiting Olympiacos Piraeus 67-64 at Fenerbahce Ulker Sport Arena on Thursday. The win improved fourth-place Fenerbahce’s record to 15-8, while Olympiacos dropped third place with a 16-7 record, but the Reds also won the season tiebreaker against Fenerbahce due to their 9-point win earlier in the season. Bogdan Bogdanovic scored a career-high 27 points and Luigi Datome netted 17 points for the winners. Erick Green scored 11 of his 17 points in the first quarter for Olympiacos.
Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade got its season back on track with a dominant 77-58 home victory over Galatasaray Odeabank Istanbul on Thursday at Aleksandar Nikolic Hall. After losing two straight games before the bye week, the pressure was on Zvezda to solidify its position in the top half of the standings, and the Serbian champs certainly delivered as Ognjen Kuzmic – who received his January monthly MVP award before tip-off – produced another big performance with 16 points and 8 rebounds. Branko Lazic also shined with a new career high of 17 points, including 5 of 5 three-point shooting. The result lifted Zvezda to 13-10, while Galatasaray fell to 7-16. The visiting team was paced by 11 points from Vladimir Micov.
FC Barcelona Lassa snapped its four-game losing streak by downing EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 78-83 at Mediolanum Forum on Thursday. Barcelona climbed to 9-14, while Milan dropped to 7-16 and saw its three-game home-court winning streak come to an end. Ante Tomic led the winners with 19 points on 9-of-12 two-point shooting plus 9 rebounds and Petteri Koponen added 16 points. Awadu Abass paced Milan with 14 points. Great two-point shooting percentage allowed Barcelona to get its first road win since November, as it hit 21 of 29 shots inside the arc (72.4%).
Anadolu Efes Istanbul overpowered Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz 96-85 on Friday at Abdi Ipekci Arena to take an important step toward the playoffs. Efes improved to 12-11 and moved into seventh place, while knocking slumping Baskonia to the same record after its third straight loss and sixth in the last seven games. Moreover, Efes claimed the potential tiebreaker against Baskonia. Thomas Heurtel powered the winners with 21 points and 11 assists and Bryant Dunston posted 15 points and a career-high 5 blocks. Roddy Beaubois led Baskonia with 23 points. Baskonia led by 1 late in the first quarter, but Tyler Honeycutt scored 7 in a 12-2 Efes run and the hosts never trailed again.
Zalgiris Kaunas boosted its playoff chances with a thrilling 86-91 road victory at Brose Bamberg in a game that saw both teams leave absolutely everything on the floor. The Lithuanian champs collected their fourth win in their last five games to improve to 10-13 and remain two wins out of the playoff zone. Bamberg dropped its six game of its last seven to fall to 8-15. It was a tantalizingly close battle nearly all the way, but in the end a pair of spectacular personal performances from Paulius Jankunas and Lukas Lekavicius were enough to see Zalgiris home. Jankunas combined 24 points and 6 rebounds, and Lekavicius had a near-perfect shooting night on his way to a career-high 29 points. The home team was paced by 17 points apiece from Nicolo Melli and Daniel Theis.
In a thriller that went down to the final second, Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens grabbed its third consecutive win by downing Unics Kazan 83-82 in the Greek capital on Friday. Panathinaikos improved to 14-9 in the standings and recorded its seventh straight home win, while Unics dropped to 7-16 after losing its last six games. Mike James hit the game-winning three-point shot with 0.9 seconds remaining. Ioannis Bourousis led the winners with 15 points. Keith Langford led Unics with 21 points and 7 assists. Langford dominated early, but the Panathinaikos defense stalled him as he did not record a single assist in the second half and scored just 1 point in the fourth quarter.
Real Madrid never trailed and used its season-highs of 16 three-pointers and 28 assists to register its ninth consecutive win, beating Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul 101-83 on Friday night at the Spanish capital. Madrid improved to league-best 18-5 record, while Darussafaka dropped to 11-12 and ninth place in the standings. Sergio Llull scored 19 of his 26 points in the first quarter, including 5 three-pointers in that period, as the hosts opened an 18-point lead and never looked back. Llull also had 8 assists. James Anderson netted 18 for Darussafaka.