Real Madrid rallying past Montepaschi 77-69
A memorable performance from Sergio Llull helped Real Madrid rally from a 9-point, third-quarter deficit to beat Montepaschi Siena 77-69 at Palacio Vistalegre in the Spanish capital on Thursday night. Llull scored all of his 17 points in the final 11 minutes, including a clutch three-pointer in the final seconds that also gave Madrid a head-to-head advantage over Montepaschi in the event of a tiebreaker. The win lifted Madrid to 2-2 in Group F, dropped Montepaschi to the same record and locked the two teams into a four-way tie for first place in the group along with Maccabi Electra and Efes Pilsen. Maccabi hosts Montepaschi next week, while Madrid travels to face Efes Pilsen in Istanbul. The game seemed headed to Montepaschi as the Italian champs cruised into the fourth quarter with a modest 5-point lead, however Llull took over, sparking a 12-2 start to the quarter, including a three that gave Madrid its first lead of the half. And in the final seconds, after Montepaschi had accepted defeat, but Henry Domercant’s basket-plus-foul brought his team within 5, enough to be covered by their 83-76 win in Siena two weeks ago, it was Llull who shined again with another three to the delight of a sold-out arena. Ante Tomic came off the bench to add 12 points and 9 rebounds and Pablo Prigioni racked up 8 points and 6 assists for the winners. Domercant and Romain Sato scored 17 points each for Montepaschi. Terrell McIntrye added 11 points and 7 assists. Montepaschi’s Ksistof did win the battle of Lavrinovic twins, outscoring his brother Darjus Lavrinovic of Madrid 11-7.
Jorge Garbajosa broke the ice from the line before David Hawkins got Montepaschi going from downtown. Darjus Lavrinovic displayed his skills with a basket inside before stepping out to knock down a three. Sato countered with a triple and some free throws to keep the game close. Pablo Prigioni fed Novica Velickovic for a fastbreak layup only to see McIntrye knot the score at 11-11 with a three-pointer. Darjus Lavrinovic added a jumper to put Madrid up. After a timeout, Ksistof Lavrinovic came in for Montepaschi, but his brother was already on the bench. Ksistof made his impact quickly with points on three straight possessions as Montepaschi took a 13-16 lead after 10 minutes.
Darjus came back to start the second quarter, but could only watch as his brother scored with a hook shot. Sato added free throws to cap a 0-9 Montepaschi run. Madrid came right back as Rimas Kaukenas sank a pair of free throws, Prigioni hit a jumper and then the two combined as Prigioni stripped Domercant and sent Kaukenas for a layup to make it 19-20. After a Montepaschi timeout, McIntyre fed Domercant perfectly for a slam and then dished to Marco Carraretto, who was fouled. Louis Bullock answered with a long jumper only to see McIntyre set up Sato with another pretty pass for an easy score. Tomic impressed with a pair of nifty baskets inside as Madrid hung tight. Garbajosa put Madrid ahead from the line, but Sato sank a triple. Garbajosa then tied it from the line only to see a red-hot Sato strike from downtown again. Marko Jaric answered with a jumper, but Ksistof and Ben Eze kept Montepaschi ahead 32-37 at halftime.
Prigioni made a highlight-reel-worthy no-look pass to Jaric to start the second half in style. There were more turnovers than baskets early in the third quarter. Jaric brought the hosts within 1 as the Madrid defense kept Montepaschi without a point for nearly four-and-a-half minutes. Eze shined on the defensive end by appearing out of nowhere to block a Darjus Lavrinovic slam. Domercant ended the Montepaschi drought with a three-pointer and despite a Prigioni steal and layup, McIntrye sank back-to-back threes to put the visitors up 38-46. Bullock countered with 3 free throws, but Siena extended its lead though Nikos Zisis and Ksistof. Bullock made it back to the line and scored 2, but soon found himself on the bench with 4 fouls. A Llull triple and later a drive kept Madrid alive at 48-53 entering the fourth quarter.
Llull continued to revive the hosts taking a downcourt feed from Prigioni for a basket-plus-foul as the fans started to cheer again. It didn’t get better for the visitors when Shaun Stonerook took a seat with 4 fouls. Felipe Reyes drew Madrid within 1 with the resulting free throws. Hawkins fought back with a tough basket, but Reyes fed Tomic before Llull brought the crowd to its feet with a triple that put Madrid ahead for the first in the second half. Travis Hansen added a three to complete a 12-2 start to the quarter as Montepaschi used a timeout. McIntrye ended the visitor’s drought, but baskets by Reyes and a three from Lull saw the Madrid lead continue to blossom. Prigioni made it 66-57 from the line. Domercant tried to rescue Siena with a three, a pair of free throws, a steal and a slam. Tomic scored a put-back. With time slipping away and Montepaschi’s chances to win looking bleak, the focus became on the 7-point gap from the first game that would impact any tiebreaker. Domercant drilled a key three with 1:18 remaining to get within 71-66. Prigioni beat the shot-clock buzzer with a triple with 20.3 second left as the arena erupted, but Henry Domercant’s offensive rebound, basket and free throw with 5.1 seconds left silenced the crowd, Madrid called timeout and got the ball to Llull, who drilled a big-time triple and was fouled with 1.6 seconds to play, giving Madrid not only the win, but the potential tiebreaker as well.
Thursday, February 25, 2010