Real Madrid rallied to beat Montepaschi 68-78
In one of the biggest comebacks in Turkish Airlines Euroleague Top 16 history, Real Madrid rallied from an 18-point deficit in the final 14 minutes to down Montepaschi 68-78 in Siena, Italy on Wednesday night. Madrid stayed undefeated in Top 16 Group G and improved to 2-0. Meanwhile, Montepaschi dropped to 0-2 and needs to start winning right away to keep its Quarterfinal Playoffs options alive. A new Euroleague star was born, too, as Nikola Mirotic had 13 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter to lead Madrid's fourth-quarter comeback. He made 4-of-4 three-pointers - 3 of them in crunch time. Clay Tucker and Carlos Suarez each added 15, Felipe Reyes had 11 while Sergio Llull got 10 for Madrid. Reyes added 11 rebounds for a double-double. David Moss had 16 points for Montepaschi while Nikos Zisis added 14. Montepaschi dominated the game for 27 minutes, leading 40-28 at halftime and improving it to 55-37 late in the third quarter. Madrid found an expected go-to guy in Mirotic, who had 10 points in a game-changing 2-20 run that gave his team a 64-72 edge with 3 minutes left. Nothing changed since that moment, as Madrid kept full control of the game and cruised to an impressing road win.
Both teams struggled to score early until Reyes stepped up with a close jumper. Zisis took over with a layup-plus-foul for a 3-2 Montepaschi lead. Reyes kept pacing the guests with a put-back basket and a mid-range jumper, as Madrid tried to play very physical early. Rimas Kaukenas dunked it off a midcourt steal and a fast break layup by Shaun Stonerook put Montepaschi back ahead, 7-6. Moss struck from downtown and a put-back by Milovan Rakovic forced Madrid to call timeout, 12-6, after a 9-0 run. Tucker came off the bench and immediately sank a fallaway jumper that Moss matched in the other end. Zisis nailed a step-back triple but Tucker kept Madrid within 17-10. Jeleel Akindele - in his first Euroleague game - split free throws and a jumper by Marco Carrareto made it a double-digit game, 20-10. A wild buzzer-beating, double-pump three-pointer by Llull brought Madrid within 20-13 after 10 minutes.
Free throws by Zisis and a jumper by Malik Hairston allowed Montepaschi to get a 24-13 margin early in the second quarter, as Madrid lacked concentration at both ends now. The guests tried a more dynamic lineup with Ante Tomic and Mirotic together on court but free throws by Carrareto made it a 13-point game, 26-13. Montepaschi forced Madrid into consecutive shot clock turnovers and a huge dunk by Hairston set the crowd on fire, 28-13. Suarez scored in the low post but Ksistof Lavrinovic matched it with a driving layup. Madrid kept struggling to score but D'or Fischer tried to change things with a dunk. Hairston took over with another dunk and Moss copied him soon after that to break the game open, 35-17. Llull and Tucker nailed back-to-back three-pointers, as Madrid improved its defense late in the first half. Mirotic joined the three-point shootout but Carrareto and Tomic traded jumpers to fix the halftime score at 40-28.
Zisis nailed a three-pointer immediately after the break but a layup by Tomic and a long jumper by Suarez gave Madrid some hope at 43-32. Kaukenas stepped up with a driving layup and a jumper by Zisis restored a 47-32 Montepaschi lead. Moss shined with a fast break layup, as Montepaschi kept controlling the game with great intensity at both ends. Suarez buried a corner triple but Stonerook took over with a layup off an inbound pass and Zisis hit another mid-range shot for a 53-37 Montepaschi margin. Madrid tried Sergio Rodriguez at point guard for the first time in the game and the guests improved their ball circulation. Reyes followed free throws with an open three-pointer and foul shots by Rodriguez brought Madrid back to life, 55-44. Akindele made 3-of-4 free throws but Tucker matched that with a triple and a rainbow jumper by Llull got Madrid within single digits, 58-49. Akindele stayed on fire with a dunk but Fischer and Llull got the guests even closer, 60-52. Lavrinovic made free throws to improve his team's lead to 62-52 after 30 minutes.
Mirotic scored down low early in the fourth quarter and soon added a corner three-pointer to bring Madrid back in the game, 62-57. Montepaschi had been scoreless for more than 2 minutes but Kaukenas took over with a driving basket. Madrid kept its momentum going, as Mirotic buried another triple - exactly from the same spot and Suarez brought Madrid as close as 64-62 with 6 minutes left. Mirotic - who else? - nailed a baseline jumper to tie it at 64-64. Montepaschi could not find the way to the basket and a second-chance triple by Tucker completed the guests' comeback, 64-67. Suarez joined the three-point shootout and free throws by Prigioni capped a 0-15 run that put Montepaschi on the ropes, 64-72, with under 3 minutes to go. Kaukenas made free throws but Suarez bettered than with a three-pointer that sealed the outcome, 66-75. Mirotic sealed his outstanding game with a three-pointer that allowed Madrid to round a wild comeback and grab a prestigious, critical road win.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011