Saric, Heurtel lead Efes to season-ending win
Anadolu Efes Istanbul fought back from a 13-point second-half deficit to defeat Panathinaikos Athens 91-86 on Thursday at Abdi Ipekci Arena. The game had no relevance for the hosts, but the Greens needed a victory to have a shot at home-court advantage for the playoffs. But Dario Saric and Thomas Heurtel led a balanced effort to deny Panathinaikos, which fell to 9-5 and finished the Top 16 in third place. The Greens will meet Laboral Kutxa Vitoria Gasteiz in the playoffs. Efes placed fifth in Group E with a 7-7 record. Panathinaikos got off to a fast start as six players combined to make 9 of 10 three-pointers in the first half alone, while James Gist threw down a pair of highlight reel slams for a 43-52 halftime advantage. A Nick Calathes triple extended the difference to 45-58 early in the third quarter. However Saric and Heurtel scored all the points in a 10-0 run that brought Efes back. It was Heurtel’s three-point play that gave Efes its first lead, 77-76, midway through the fourth quarter. Saric stepped up with a clutch triple to extend the lead, a key block on defense and a three-point play as Efes pulled away to give their fans a parting gift. The forward tallied 15 points, 7 rebounds and 2 blocks to lead six Efes scorers in double figures. Jon Diebler added 13 points, Cedi Osman scored 12, Bryant Dunston and Derrick Brown each posted 11, Alex Tyus 10 and Heurtel finished with 9 points and 9 assists. Gist, Calathes and Elliot Williams led Panathinaikos with 14 points apiece and Vladimir Jankovic, Miroslav Raduljica and Dimitris Diamantidis added 10 points each. Calathes also dished 10 assists. Panathinaikos missed its final 6 three-point tries of the game.
First quarter: Gists’s, Haynes’s threes push Greens ahead
Gist opened the scoring for the Greens with a triple from the corner. Calathes, who assisted on the first basket, buried a jumper. More than two-and-a-half minutes passed before Dunston finish in the paint got the hosts on the scoreboard. Williams buried a baseline jumper for a 2-7 Panathinaikos start. The lead grew on a Jankovic triple. Efes fond its footing with a Dunston put-back and Osman’s three-point play. A second three by Gist made it 7-13, however Dunston outmaneuvered Miroslav Raduljica inside to keep the hosts close. Saric rejected Raduljica at the rim and Furkan Korkmaz followed his own missed shot in for a basket and foul to bring Efes within 1. MarQuez Haynes drilled a pair of threes to put the visitors back in charge at 12-19. Tyus sank a jumper for Efes and Raduljica finished a pick-and-roll at the other end. Derrick Brown brought the hosts within 4 with a three-pointer only to see Diamantidis answer with a jumper that ended the quarter at 17-23.
Second quarter: Visitors keep up hot shooting to remain in control
Tyus went inside for a layup before Diamantidis and Diebler traded threes. After a timeout, Ognjen Kuzmic split free throws and Calathes put back the miss as the Greens’ lead swelled again. Derrick Brown missed a pair of free throws and Diamantidis nailed another three for the game’s first double-digit difference, 22-32. Tyus managed an acrobatic finish inside, but James Feldeine countered with yet another Panathinaikos triple. But Efes fought on through a Tyus put-back and a Birkan Batuk three. Williams tipped in a Calathes miss, but Tyus drained a jumper. Calathes’s brilliant pass led Williams to a slam and a 31-39 lead midway through the quarter. Osman turned the heat on with a three from the wing. Osman matched Jankovic’s put-back with a floater. Batuk buried a contested jumper to close the gap to 38-41. Jankovic netted free throws, but Osman scored again on the offensive glass. However Calathes nailed a three before Gist came up with a steal and took it in for a 360-degree slam dunk. Efes guard Jayson Granger was helped off the court with an apparent injury on the play. Dunston split free throws and Batuk made 2 more to close the deficit to 43-48. Williams darted through the Efes defense for a layup and Gist dunked again on the break thanks to a great outlet pass from Antonis Fotsis to lead 43-52 at the break.
Third quarter: Heurtel, Saric spark Efes revival
Jankovic kept the Greens shooting in form with a triple to start the second half. Diebler nit back with a jumper, but Calathes found himself open and hit another three. Heurtel found a cutting Saric wide open for a layup and the forward soon netted free throws. Heurtel added foul shots and Saric scored on the break thanks to a Heurtel steal. Heurtel then went through the Greens’ defense for a layup that capped a 10-0 run that brought the hosts within 55-58 and prompted a Panathinaikos timeout. Calathes found Raduljica inside for a layup to revive the visitors and Gist went through Saric as the Greens regained control. Dunston dunked home a missed Oman layup. And after a Diamantidis layup, dusnton turned an offensive rebound and into a Brown slam. A well-run play in transition finished with an Osman layup to make it a 3-point game again. After Raduljica’s free throws, neither team scored in the final two minutes of the quarter, which ended at 61-66.
Fourth quarter: Efes uses 19-4 march to finish season in style
Raduljica extended the difference again with 2 free throws, but Dunston matched him after drawing an unsportsmanlike foul from Vince Hunter on the ensuing play. Heurtel’s turnover led to a Williams layup on the break, but soon Brown split free throws and Diebler buried a three to make it 67-70. Williams rescued the Greens with a nifty layup and Calathes also scored. Heurtel kept Efes in the picture with an off-balance bucket, but Raduljica matched him with a basket inside. After free throws by Brown, Osman’s steal led to a Saric triple, which cut the deficit to 2. Heurtel pushed the ball in transition for a three-point play and Efes’s first lead, 77-76, midway through the quarter. The lead changed hands on a Gist slam and a Diebler triple. Saric extended the difference to 5 with another big triple with two-and-a-half minutes remaining and then rejected Williams at the other end. Brown’s fast break layup made it 85-78 and prompted a Panathinaikos timeout. Feldeine kept the Greens alive with a layup, but Saric all but finished off the game with a basket-plus-foul. Calathes then missed free throws, although Calathes saved the second one and Hunter put it in. After a Calathes steal, he made free throws to bring his team within 88-84 with a minute to go. After Brown split free throws, Saric captured the offensive rebound to help kill the clock. Williams made it a 3-point game with 11 seconds left, but Diebler iced the game from the line.
Thursday, April 7, 2016