Playoffs Game 3: Zalgiris, Madrid near Final Four; Baskonia, Khimki stay alive
After one of the toughest and most-competitive regular seasons in Turkish Airlines EuroLeague history, the quality of all teams could be seen in the playoffs, which will not see any sweeps this season. All four home teams won Game 3 on Tuesday or Wednesday. Now Zalgiris Kaunas and Real Madrid, which stole home-court advantage with road wins in one of the first two playoffs games, will have a chance to advance to the EuroLeague Final Four with a home win in Game 4. KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz and Khimki Moscow Region, which had their backs to the wall trailing 0-2, each won to extend their series and will look to even it up in their respective Game 4s.
Khimki Moscow Region 79-73 CSKA Moscow (1-2)
Khimki recorded its first-ever victory in the EuroLeague Playoffs on Wednesday by beating crosstown rival CSKA 79-73 at Arena Mytishchi. League-leading scorer Alexey Shved bounced back from a season-low 12 points in Game 2 by pumping in 27 points to lead the winners, while forward Anthony Gill shined with 22 points with just 1 missed field goal plus 7 rebounds. Tyler Honeycutt made his return from injury and played a key role on defense, too. Cory Higgins tied his career high with 26 points for CSKA, which rallied from a double-digit deficit to lead by as many as 4 late in the third quarter. With the score tied midway through the fourth, Gill sandwiched a pair of threes around another from Honeycutt in a 9-0 run that gave Khimki control for good. CSKA outrebounded Khimki 32-42, but committed 18 turnovers, which was its second-most all season.
Real Madrid 81-74 Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens (2-1)
Celebrating the return of an MVP after his long absence, Real Madrid moved to within one victory of the Final Four by outlasting Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens 81-74 at home in Game 3 on Wednesday. Jaycee Carroll's four-point play inside the final minute proved the difference after Panathinaikos had overcome a 13-point second-half deficit to tie down the stretch. Madrid leads the series 2-1 with Game 4 back in the Spanish capital on Friday. Carroll didn't miss a shot – hitting 3 of 3 two- and three-pointers plus both of his free throws – in getting 17 points as Madrid's only double-digit scorer. But the return of reigning EuroLeague MVP Sergio Llull, who came off the bench to a standing ovation with 2:45 left in the first quarter, had its intended effect, too. All of Llull's 8 points came during 2 minutes, 10 seconds late in the game and gave Madrid a 70-63 advantage. Mike James would soon tie it 70-70 on a triple, but Carroll proved the main shot-maker after that to keep the win in Madrid. Nick Calathes led Panathinaikos with 26 points on a career-high 4 three-pointers, while James Gist added 15 points and Mike James 14.
Zalgiris Kaunas 80-60 Olympiacos Piraeus (2-1)
Zalgiris took control of the series with an 80-60 rout of Olympiacos at Zalgirio Arena on Tuesday night. The Lithuanian champs grabbed a 2-1 series lead and can clinch a historic Final Four berth if they win Game 4 at home on Thursday. Zalgiris took charge with a 12-0 second-quarter run to lead by as many as 17. Olympiacos battled back to within 47-36 at halftime and Vassilis Spanoulis rallied the Reds to within 7 in the third, but Zalgiris captain Paulius Jankunas stepped up with all his team's points in a 9-1 run and the hosts never looked back. Brandon Davies starred with 18 points and Jankunas finished with 13 for Zalgiris, whose 72.7% two-point shooting (24 of 33) tied for the third-best by any team in playoff history. The hosts outrebounded Olympiacos 33-27 and dished 23 assists to the visitors' 12. Vassilis Spanoulis paced Olympiacos with 14 points. The 20-point loss was the worst playoff defeat for Olympiacos since 2008.
KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz 88-83 Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul (1-2)
With its back against the wall, Baskonia hit 14 three-pointers and used a 15-0 fourth-quarter run to down defending champion Fenerbahce 88-83 on Tuesday. The hosts knocked down 9 three-pointers in the first half and held a 47-38 halftime lead. Baskonia kept the advantage in the third quarter, but Marko Guduric hit 3 triples to help Fenerbahce rally and get within 67-66 going into the fourth quarter. However, Janis Timma strung together 8 points to spark a 15-0 run that opened a 16-point Baskonia lead with less than five minutes to go in the game and the hosts held off Fenerbahce’s final charge. Rodrigue Beaubois led the hosts with 21 points and also dished 5 assists. Marcelinho Huertas had 11 points and 7 assist, while Tornike Shengelia collected 10 points, 10 rebounds and 4 assists in the winning effort. Jan Vesely had 17 points and 10 rebounds for Fenerbahce, which had its 11-game playoff winning streak broken.