Game Center, Round 30: Upsets, overtimes pave way to playoffs!
Non-playoff teams took some revenge on Thursday by beating three playoff teams, two on the road, while another only survived on a last-second basket in overtime. A third overtime game to start Friday shifted the sands under some playoff teams as well. When the dust settled, these are the best-of-five series coming your way starting Tuesday, April 17: CSKA Moscow vs. Khimki Moscow Region; Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul vs. Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz; Olympiacos Piraeus vs. Zalgiris Kaunas; and Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens vs. Real Madrid.
CSKA Moscow 92-81 Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade
CSKA Moscow ended the regular season on a high note, with a league-best 24-6 record, after overcoming double-digit deficits to down visiting Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 92-81 on Thursday. CSKA, who played without Nando De Colo and lost Kyle Hines to a leg injury at the start of the second quarter, had to overcome several double-digit deficits, including 37-47 soon after halftime. But Othello Hunter fueled a 14-2 run to erase the deficit before Leo Westermann and Sergio Rodriguez took over in the fourth quarter as the hosts secured a victory. Vitaly Fridzon netted 20 points to lead CSKA, and Cory Higgins had 18 with 5 assists. Hunter and Rodriguez finished with 12 apiece in victory. Ognjen Dobric had 14 points for Zvezda which finished the season with 11-19 record.
Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul 91-99 Unicaja Malaga
Unicaja Malaga finished its Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season in style by downing defending champion Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul 91-99 in overtime on the road on Thursday. Unicaja finished the Regular Season with a 13-17 record and Fenerbahce was second overall at 21-9. Nemanja Nedovic led the winners with a career-high 31 points, including 13-of-13 free throws, and 8 assists. Adam Waczynski added 18 points, James Augustine 11 and Alberto Diaz 10 for Unicaja. Kostas Sloukas led Fenerbahce with 26 points. James Nunnally added 19 while Jan Vesely had 14 for the hosts. A three-pointer by Diaz restored an 81-83 Unicaja lead with 7.9 seconds left but Sloukas's tip-in sent the game to overtime. Nedovic and Waczynski took over in the extra period, allowing Unicaja to get the win.
AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan 95-96 Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens
Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens kept its hopes alive for gaining home-court advantage in the upcoming playoffs with a nerve-wracking 95-96 road win on the buzzer in overtime on Thursday against heart-broken AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan. Mike James sent a one-hand pass toward the rim that James Gist never touched but somehow the ball dropped in, giving the Greens a serendipitous win in a game they trailed in early and often. Panathinaikos raised its record to 19-11. To gain home-court advantage, the Greens now need Olympiacos Piraeus (19-10) or Real Madrid (18-11) to lose on Friday, but if both win, the Greens will end up fifth. Milan finished its season 10-20 despite leading for most of the game, at one point by as much as 17 points. Milan nonetheless needed 3 free throws by Dairis Bertans to force overtime, where it seemed set to win again until the last, fateful play.
FC Barcelona Lassa 86-82 Khimki Moscow Region
FC Barcelona Lassa never trialed and hit 17 three-pointers in holding off the visiting Khimki Moscow Region 86-82 on Thursday night. A win improved Barcelona to 11-19 in its last game of the season, while playoff-bound Khimki suffered its third consecutive loss to finish in eighth place with a 16-14 record. It means Khimki will face its city rival CSKA Moscow in the playoffs. Barcelona hit 8 of its first 11 three-point attempts and held 45-25 second-quarter lead. Khimki rallied behind Anthony Gill and Charles Jenkins to stay within single digits the most of the second half, but never got closer than 4 points. The Turkish Airlines EuroLeague's all-time scoring king, Juan Carlos Navarro, led the way with 17 points on 5-for-11 three-point shooting. Barcelona finishied the season hitting 36 three-point shots over two games, more than any other team this century. Thomas Heurtel netted 14 points in victory, while Anthony Gill paced Khimki with 21 points. Alexey Shved scored a season-low 15 in defeat.
Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz 79-81 Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Anadolu Efes Istanbul finished its Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season with a prestigious road win by downing Baskonia Vitoria Gasteiz 79-81 on Thursday. Efes finished the EuroLeague regular season with a 7-23 record. With the end of its six-game winning streak, Baskonia finished in seventh place seventh overall with a 16-14 record and is now set to face Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul in the playoffs. Errick McCollum led the winners with 21 points on 9-of-10 two-point shots. Brock Motum added 16 while Bryant Dunston had 10 for Efes. Vincent Poirier and Toko Shengelia led Baskonia with 17 points apiece. Rodrigue Beaubois and Matt Janning each had 10 while Jayson Granger dished 11 assists for the hosts. Efes led for the best part of the game but Poirier and Shengelia allowed Baskonia to briefly get the lead, 77-76, before free throws by Toney Douglas and Krunoslav Simon restored a 77-80 Efes edge with 10.9 seconds left. Baskonia had a chance to win the game but Marcelinho Huertas missed around the basket at the buzzer.
Olympiacos Piraeus 85-86 Zalgiris Kaunas
In an overtime thriller, Zalgiris Kaunas gave the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs map a major twist by topping host Olympiacos Piraeus 85-86 on Friday. Zalgiris, which was going to finish in sixth place no matter what, improved to 18-12. Its victory, however, mathematically sent Real Madrid to fifth place and gave Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens home-court advantage in the playoffs. Olympiacos finished 19-11 record has to wait until the end of Round 30 to know its playoff opponent, Zalgiris or Madrid. Brandon Davies led the winners with 18 points. Paulius Jankunas added 15, including the game-winning tip-in with 2.9 seconds left. Edgaras Ulanovas had 11 for Zalgiris. Vassilis Spanoulis led Olympiacos with 16 points. Nikola Milutinov added 15 while Brian Roberts had 12 for the hosts. After Olympiacos led 43-31 at halftime. Edgaras Ulanovas, Beno Udrih and Vasilije Micic fueled a 0-15 run before Arturas Milaknis gave Zalgiris its first lead, 71-74, with over 3 minutes left. It would take a dunk by Kyle Wiltjer to let Olympiacos force overtime, 80-80, and in the extra period, his put-back layup had the Reds up 85-84, with 8.6 seconds left. But Jankunas scored at the other end and Spanoulis missed from downtown in the game's final possession.
Valencia Basket 87-84 Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv
Valencia Basket gave its home fans a final thrill of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season by outlasting Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv for a 87-74 victory on Friday. The win let Valencia finish 12-18 and move up from 14th to 11th place in the final standings. Maccabi fell to 13-17 and 10th place. Maccabi reeled back an 18-point second-half deficit to get within 65-64 early in the fourth quarter and 85-84 with a few seconds left, but Valencia's superior outside shooting was the difference in the end. The hosts hit 11 of 28 three-pointers on the night, while Maccabi downed just 3 of 17. Bojan Dubljevic led Valencia with 15 points and Erick Green had 12. The trio of Alberto Abalde, Sergi Garcia and Sam Van Rossom, who hit the final insurance free throws, scored 11 each. Norris Cole played more than 38 minutes and scored 22 points for Maccabi, while Jonah Bolden added 12 and Michael Roll 10.
Real Madrid 106-86 Brose Bamberg
Real Madrid finished the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season in style by downing Brose Bamberg 106-86 in the Spanish capital on Friday. Madrid finished the regular season with a 19-11 record, fifth overall due to its tie-break disadvantage in a three-way tie with Olympiacos Piraeus, third, and Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens, fourth. As such, Madrid will face Panathinaikos in a best-of-five playoffs series for which the Greek powerhouse will have the home-court advantage. Bamberg finished the regular season with an 11-19 record. Anthony Randolph led the winners with 23 points on 4-of-4 three-point shooting, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals. Jaycee Carroll added 19 points, Gustavo Ayon 14, Luka Doncic 12 and Rudy Fernandez 10 for Madrid. Daniel Hackett led Bamberg with 17 points. Dejan Musli added 16, Augustine Rubit 12 and Dorell Wright 11 for the guests. Madrid led 53-50 at halftime, boosting its margin to 82-69 after 30 minutes and then again to 99-78 soon after that to seal the outcome.