Ayon, Rivers star as Madrid rallies past Efes
Real Madrid enjoyed two huge performances from players that are normally the supporting cast as it rallied past Anadolu Efes Istanbul 80-71 in the opening game of their best-of-five playoffs series. K.C. Rivers led the way with a career-high 21 points on 6-of-7 three-point shooting and Gustavo Ayon posted his first career double-double for Madrid, which rallied from an 11-point second-quarter deficit. The hosts used a dominant third quarter in which it outscored Efes 26-10. Madrid won its ninth straight Euroleague home game in improving to 20-5 for the season. Ayon finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and 4 steals. Felipe Reyes added 12 points and Rudy Fernandez scored 10 for the victors. Dario Saric paced Efes with 13 points and Cedi Osman scored 11, Point guard Thomas Heurtel dished 11 assists for Efes, but also tied a Euroleague playoffs record with 8 turnovers. He shares that distinction with Rimas Kaukenas, who committed 8 turnovers with Montepaschi Siena against Panathinaikos in 2009.
First quarter: After 6 ties, Madrid holds narrow lead
Both teams came out hot. Efes won the opening tip and Dontaye Draper promptly nailed a three-pointer. Reyes scored the hosts’ first points. Stratos Perperoglou worked inside for a short jumper for the visitors. Rivers sank 2 free throws and then drilled a three to tie the game at 7-7. More than two minutes passed before the game’s first miss. Ayon’s second-chance basket gave Madrid its first lead. Krstic drew Reyes’s second foul and tied the game at 11-11 with free throws. Janning made a tough layup to take an 11-13 lead midway through the quarter. Ayon buried a baseline jumper and Llull split free throws for another Madrid lead. Rivers added a four-point play to lead 18-13. A basket by Osman and free throws by Saric closed the gap. Thomas Heurtel’s great pass found Stephane Lasme for a layup. Ayon netted free throws to keep Madrid ahead. Saric split free throws to tie the game for the sixth time, 20-20. An Andres Nocioni drive gave the hosts a 22-20 edge after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Heurtel leads 0-15 Efes charge
Osman attacked the rim, drew a foul and split free throws. Heurtel then put the visitors ahead by 1 before Jonas Maciulis tied the game at 23-23. Jaycee Carroll buried a floater and Sergio Rodriguez sank free throws as the hosts looked to pull away. Instead Draper drained his second three, some fantastic team passing opened up a layup for Lasme and Osman scored on the break to put Efes ahead 27-30. Madrid tried to turn things around with a timeout, but instead the Efes defense forced a 24-second violation and Saric nailed a triple. Osman stole a pass, drew a foul and split free throws. Lasme added a jumper and Heurtel did the same to cap a 0-15 charge for a 27-38 lead. Rudy ended Madrid’s drought with a free throws and Llull closed the gap to 6 with a three-pointer. After a timeout, Rudy connected from downtown. Saric drove for an impressive layup and added a triple to keep the visitors in control at 35-43.
Third quarter: Rivers’s threes help Madrid storm ahead
Rudy scored a tough basket inside to start the second half. Reyes added free throws, but a jumper from Janning kept Efes on top. Llull answered with a floater to make it 41-45. Rudy knocked down a triple and Ayon’s steal and slam put the hosts in front, 46-45. Birkan batuk hit back with a triple for Efes. Reyes tied the game and then put Madrid in front, 50-48. After a timeout, Rivers buried a three-pointer. Perperoglou knocked down a three-pointer, but Rivers heated up with a pair of triples for a 59-51 advantage. Heurtel found Saric on the break for a layup. A Nocioni tip-in made it 61-53 at the end of the quarter.
Fourth quarter: Madrid finish second-half domination
Nocioni made a pretty layup for a 10-point Madrid advantage. Krstic hit a jumper and tipped in a Saric miss on the break. Saric was called for a technical foul, which Carroll converted. Osman nailed a clutch three to close within 66-60. Reyes worked his way to a layup and then rejected Saric. Reyes fed Ayon for a slam and Rodriguez’s steal led to a Reyes dunk and a 12-point advantage. After a timeout, Milko Bjelica tried to spark his team with a basket-plus-foul. But Rivers nailed his sixth three and after Krstic split free throws, Rodriguez added a three for a 14-point lead. Krstic banked in a shot and Ayon matched him with 2 free throws. Batuk and Bjelica narrowed the gap in the final minutes, but the outcome was no longer in question.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015