Madrid's Fernandez shocks Panathinaikos at the buzzer
Rudy Fernandez had no time left and heaved a one-handed prayer from mid-court that found nothing but net as Real Madrid completed an 18-point comeback to stun Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 73-74 on Thursday. The shot denied Panathinaikos early entry to the playoffs, which 18,003 fans were poised to celebrate and dropped the Greens to a 15-14 record. Madrid improved 22-7 and remains in third place. Fernandez's shot marked the only Madrid lead since 0-3 at the start of the game, after which the visitors fell behind 32-14 at the end of one quarter. They rallied behind a double-double of 14 points and 16 rebounds by Walter Tavares and 12 points, all after halftime, by Sergio Llull. Fernandez added 13 points and Trey Thompkins 10 for the winners. Nick Calathes had 14 points and 9 assists for Panathinaikos, but Madrid's defense limited him to 2 points after halftime. Keith Langford also scored 14 for the Greens.
After Tavares scored the game's first 3 points, Ioannis Papapetrou triggered a 10-0 Panathinaikos run. DeShaun Thomas and Calathes kept it going and the lead climbed to 18-6 as Georgios Papagiannis powered up an offensive rebound. Langford joined the fun with 6 points to make it 28-14. Lukas Lekavicius and Ian Vougioukas finished up the onslaught to put Panathinaikos up 32-14 after one quarter. Facundo Campazzo and Jaycee Carroll calmed Madrid with triples to open the second quarter, then Tavares went to work inside with 3 baskets to cut the difference to 35-26. Calathes blasted 7 straight points to make it 42-28 before Fernandez answered with 5 of his own to close the gap to 45-33 at the half. Llull struck from downtown twice after halftime and then drove for a layup to quickly cut the difference to 50-44, forcing a Panathinaikos timeout. Calathes drilled a jumper and Papagiannis downed a put-back at 54-46. The offenses stalled then until Anthony Randolph hit from the corner and Vougioukas from shorter distance. Langford stepped up with a triple, restoring a double-digit lead, 59-49. Llull hit a free throw before Santi Yusta beat the third-quarter buzzer, however, to make it 59-53 after three quarters. Langford opened the final quarter from deep, but Trey Thompkins answered at 62-56. Thomas was next to drill a triple, then Sean Kilpatrick downed free throws for a new double-digit lead, 67-56. Thomas turned a monster offensive rebound into a three-point play to make it 71-60, but Llull answered from downtown before Fernandez, Facundo Campazzo and Gustavo Ayon hit 2 free throws each to make it 71-69 with less the 3 minutes left. Langford scored entering the final minute for a 73-70 Panathinaikos edge that Randolph trimmed by a free throw with 37 seconds left. Papagiannis missed 2 free throws and Langford a three-pointer, leaving Madrid 21 seconds to work with. They seemed to have run out when Fernandez flicked his shot with one hand to avoid the defense. It left his had with two-tenths of a second showing and rained through the net as the buzzer sounded, sending Madrid into euphoria as Panathinaikos saw its playoffs hopes postponed.
Greens roar out of gate
Down 0-3 to start the game, Panathinaikos got going with a Sean Kilpatrick three-pointer that lit the fuse on 34 points in 9 minutes. The hosts made 10 of 15 two-pointers and 9 of 11 free throws in that span to amass a 32-14 lead after one quarter. The 18-point difference matched the third-highest lead for the Greens after 10 minutes in all its EuroLeague games this century.
Sargent Swat dominates
Walter Tavares of Madrid scored the game's first 3 points and proceeded to keep his team alive by controlling the boards while getting a rare first-half double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds. His eventual 16-rebound haul matched the third-highest total this season and was among six career highs for Tavares: performance index rating (29), points (14), offensive (6), defensive (10) and total rebounds (16), as well as minutes played (28).
The race continues
The combination of the game-winning shot by Fernandez and Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv winning 90-55 at home against Herbalife Gran Canaria means that Panathinaikos will have to wait until next week to try to punch its ticket to the playoffs again, but can do so by beating Buducnost VOLI Podgorica at home. Madrid will remain in third place unless CSKA Moscow loses its final two games.
Madrid goes home to finish the regular season in Round 30 hosting Zalgiris Kaunas. Panathinaikos hosts already-eliminated Buducnost at OAKA.
Thursday, March 28, 2019