Anadolu Efes gets back on winning track
Anadolu Efes Istanbul snapped its four-game winning streak, and improved its chances in the playoff race by downing visiting Nizhny Novgorod 79-75 in Game of the Week on Thursday. The win improved Efes to 5-6 and at least a share of fourth place in Group F, while Nizhny, which was missing Trey Thompkins and Tarence Kinsey, dropped to 3-7. It was fourth meeting between the two sides this season, and Efes, playing without big man Nenad Krstic, took control in the first half behind Thomas Heurtel and Milko Bjelica. Dario Saric lifted the hosts to 48-39 halftime lead and the margin remained in double figures for most of the second half. A triple from Cedi Osman extended it to 75-57 in the fourth quarter. Nizhny tried to rally, but the hosts’ lead, and victory, was never in danger. Bjelica finished with 15 points, while Osman and Stephane Lasme had 13 apiece in victory. Stratos Perperoglou scored 10 and Heurtel finished with 8 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds. Artsiom Parakhouski collected 22 points and 7 rebounds for Nizhny. Taylor Rochestie netted 18, while Gal Mekel had 13 in defeat.
First quarter: Heurtel and Bjelica get Efes going
After Parakhouski’s jumper-plus-free throw, Stephane Lasme split foul shots to open Efes’s tally and then sank a jumper. Dmitry Khvostov drove for a three-point-play, and after Perperoglou drove for a layup on the other end, Rochestie nailed a three-pointer to make it 7-9. Perperoglou countered with a wide-open jumper, but Parakhouski answered with a reverse layup and Rihards Kuksiks knocked down a triple for a 7-14 lead. Heurtel drove the length of the court for a layup before a timeout, and sank a mid-range jumper after it. Perperoglou's free throws cut the deficit to a single point, but Semen Antonov buried one from long range for the visitors to remain on top, 13-17. Lasme and Mekel traded easy layups, but Heurtel hit another jumper, Bjelica a pair of free throws, and Perperoglou drove for a layup and a 21-19 edge. Parakhouski banked in a shot, but Bjelica drove for a layup-plus-free throw in the final seconds of the quarter, making it 24-21 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Efes maintains lead
Bjelica kept it going inside and after Mekel answered with a drive to the hoop, Dario Saric knocked down a triple for a 29-23 lead. Parkhouski had a dunk and a layup for Nizhny, but Osman nailed a corner three followed by Lasme making a move inside, before Bjelica drove for a layup-plus-free throw and a 10-point cushion. Rochestie drove the lane twice, with Parakhouski making a baseline jumper in between. Bjelica scored a runner, but Rochesite hit a triple, cutting it to 39-36. Osman made a tough baseline floater, and Heurtel scored from close range to keep Efes ahead. Rochestie nailed another triple, but Saric countered with a three-point play and followed it with a fastbreak dunk, making it 48-39 at halftime.
Third quarter: The hosts open 14-point margin
On the first possession of the second half, Perperoglou’s turnaround jumper extended the margin into double digits, and Efes kept the visitors without a basket for two minutes. But Mekel found Parakhouski for a jumper, then drove for a layup, before Antonov’s put-back cut it to 50-45. Bjelica scored from close range, and Matt Janning made a jumper for the hosts. Parakhouski made an uncontested slam dunk on the other end, but Osman drove on a fast break for a three-point play and 57-47 lead. Lasme kept the margin in the double figures with a jumper and a couple of free throws. Meanwhile Nizhny players went 3 of 6 from the free throw line. A triple from Birkan Batuk extended it to 64-50, before Rochestie drove to the rim to make it 64-52.
Fourth quarter: Nizny rallies too late
Rochestie made a three-pointer, but that was a lone Nizhny basket in the first four minutes of the quarter. Efes did not score from the field during that stretch, either, but free throws from Bjelica and Osman kept the lead in double figures. A fastbreak layup-plus-foul from Dontaye Draper extended it to 70-55. After free throws from Kuksiks, a jumper from Lasme and a corner triple from Osman made it 75-57. Parakhouski had a put-back-plus-free throw, and Ivan Savelyev banked in a runner, cutting the deficit. A pair of driving layups by Mekel, including a three-point-play, made it 75-67. However, Draper’s triple snapped a 0-10 run with under two minutes to go to put the game away. The visitors did score 8 points in a row through Kuksiks, Parakhouski and Mekel in closing within 78-75 with 4 seconds left, but Perperoglou iced the game from the free throw line.
Thursday, March 19, 2015