Panathinaikos holds off Zvezda at home
In a back-and-forth battle that went down to the wire, Panathinaikos Athens edged Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade 74-69 in the Greek capital on Friday. Panathinaikos stayed undefeated at home in Group E and improved to 5-2, while Zvezda dropped to 1-6. A.J. Slaughter paced the winners with 16 points. Esteban Batista added 13, James Gist had 12 while Dimitris Diamantidis tallied 11 points, 10 assists and 4 steals for Panathinaikos. Boban Marjanovic and Charles Jenkins led Zvezda with 17 points apiece. Marjanovic also collected 10 rebounds. Marcus Williams added 10 points for the guests. Panathinaikos had a great start on defense, holding Zvezda scoreless for five minutes, with Batista shutting down Marjanovic. Meanwhile, Slaughter and Gist paced the Greens throughout the first quarter and a triple by Diamantidis made it 26-6, after 10 minutes. Williams and Maik Zirbes fueled a 0-10 run that brought Zvezda back to life. A layup by Luka Mitrovic got the guests within 31-27, but Batista and DeMarcus Nelson extended Panathinaikos's margin to 37-29 at halftime. Zvezda finally got Marjanovic involved; he had 14 third-quarter points to bring his team within 52-51 late in the third quarter. A red-hot Jenkins and a jumper by Nikola Kalinic gave Zvezda a 60-65 lead midway through the fourth quarter. Diamantidis and Slaughter fueled a 10-0 run from which the Greens regained the lead, 70-65. Zvezda kept its chances alive until the final seconds, but Slaughter sealed the outcome with a fast break layup.
First quarter: Panathinaikos shines at both ends
Both teams struggled to score early until Gist stepped up with a one-handed slam in transition and followed that with a close basket for a 4-0 lead. Zvezda was held scoreless for more than five minutes. After a three-pointer by Dimitris Diamantidis, the guests called timeout. A.J. Slaughter sank a four-meter jumper to cap a 9-0 run, before Luka Mitrovic finally got Zvezda going with a layup. Slaughter scored in penetration and a second-chance layup by Gist made it a double-digit game. Slaughter hit another triple and a layup by Batista made it 18-2. Charles Jenkins scored in penetration and a layup by Boban Marjanovic brought Zvezda within 12. Gist struck from downtown and collected a steal that allowed Slaughter to give the Greens a 23-6 margin. Diamantidis nailed another one from beyond the arc to give Panathinaikos a 26-6 advantage after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: 0-10 run sparks Zvezda's rally
Gist took over with a high-flying layup early in the quarter. Jenkins tried to change things with a driving basket, which Marko Tejic followed with a layup that made it 28-10. Jenkins shined with a power layup – and the free throw that came with it, but DeMarcus Nelson stepped up with a driving layup and Tejic got the guests closer, 30-14. Maik Zirbes showed good timing with a tip-in and Marcus Williams followed free throws with a three-pointer that brought Zvezda within 9. Panathinaikos could not find the way to the basket and a put-back basket by Tejic capped a 0-10 run. Batista split foul shots and a dunk by Zirbes made it 31-25. Batista and Luka Mitrovic exchanged close baskets and a coast-to-coast layup by Jaka Blazic got Zvezda even closer, 33-29. Another layup by Batista and a buzzer-beater jumper by Nelson gave Panathinaikos some fresh air, 37-29, at halftime.
Third quarter: Marjanovic takes over
Batista made free throws immediately after the break and soon added a close basket for a 41-29 Panathinaikos lead. Williams stepped up with a three-pointer, but Gist split foul shots and Vlantimir Giankovits struck from downtown, which caused the guests stop the game at 45-32. Mitrovic and Batista exchanged dunks and consecutive layups by Marjanovic brought Zvezda within 47-38. Mitrovic provided a highlight with an off-balance layup and Marjanovic dunked twice in traffic to make it a 3-point game. Panathinaikos called timeout, but a red-hot Marjanovic dunked again. Giankovits split free throws and Loukas Mavrokefalidis gave the Greens a 50-46 edge. Marjanovic had his fourth consecutive slam and erased Mavrokefalidis's driving layup with yet another dunk. He split free throws to fix the score at 52-51.
Fourth quarter: Zvezda completes rally, Greens fight back
Tejic dunked to complete the guests' comeback, 52-53. Mavrokefalidis hit a one-handed floater in the paint, but Jenkins beat the shot clock with an acrobatic jumper. Nelson stepped up with a layup-plus-foul, but Jenkins insisted from downtown for a 57-58 Zvezda edge with over six minutes left. Antonis Fotsis joined the three-point shootout, however Branko Lazic answered with a layup and Jenkins added a wild three-point play for a 60-63 Zvezda lead. Nikola Kalinic swished a five-meter jumper for a 5-point edge. Slaughter came right back with a fast break layup. A three-pointer by Diamantidis tied the game and another one by Slaughter restored a 68-65 Panathinaikos lead. Diamantidis and Jenkins exchanged free throws and Giankovits gave the Greens a 72-67 edge with 59.4 seconds left. Williams hit foul shots, but missed a key shot from downtown that allowed Slaughter to seal the outcome with a fast break layup in the closing seconds.
Friday, February 13, 2015