Real bounces back, downs Olympiacos
Real Madrid never trailed as it used the last home game of the regular season to improve its playoff chances and down already-eliminated Olympiacos Piraeus 72-63 on Friday night in the Spanish capital. Real holds a 19-14 record going into the regular season finale, while Olympiacos drops to 15-18 with one game to go. Real took control of the game from the start behind its defense, allowing just 11 first-quarter points and just 26 in the first half. The host built a double-digit lead behind Gabriel Deck and Walter Tavares, and the visitors never came closer than 8 points in the second half. Deck paced the winners with 18 points on 7-for-7 two-pointers, while Tavares finished with 15 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks in the victory. Sasha Vezenkov netted 22 points as the only double-digits scorer for Olympiacos.
Real started strong and aggressive on defense, allowing just one basket, a second-chance layup from Georgios Printezis, in 6 minutes to open the game. Real also forced 3 turnovers in that span, while taking it to the rim on offense with Deck scoring three layups to open a 9-2 lead. The Reds scored a pair of fastbreak layups from Charles Jenkins and Vezenkov, but Nicolas Laprovittola had a triple and fadeway jumper to increase the margin to 18-8. Printezis answered with a three-point play, but Deck banked a last-second jumper to make it 20-11 after 10 minutes. Vezenkov and Alberto Abalde traded threes, but two easy buckets from Tavares opened 27-16. The Reds were not going away, with Vassilis Spanoulis taking it to the rim and Octavius Ellis scoring inside, but a transition triple and a second-chance floater from Jaycee Carroll kept Real's lead in double figures. Ellis had an alley-oop dunk and Spanoulis drove to the rim once again, but the hosts still took 36-26 into halftime.
Carlos Alocen opened a 13-point margin with a triple to start the third quarter. Kostas Sloukas had a long two and a three to cut it into single digits, before Jeffery Taylor and Trey Thompkins knocked down back-to-back triples to make it a 47-33 game midway through the third as Olympiacos was held without a basket for almost 4 minutes. Vezenkov scored 5 points before the end of the quarter, but Tavares netted twice inside to make it 53-38 after 30 minutes. Tavares made the margin 17 points, largest of the night, to open the fourth quarter, before Vezenkov and Giannoulis Larentzakis fueled a 2-8 run to get the visitors within 57-46. Tavares scored from close range again, and Rudy Fernandez made one from downtown, but Spanoulis and Vezenkov bagged back-to-back triples to make it 62-52. However, Abalde nailed a three, and Deck raced for a fastbreak dunk to restore a 15-point lead. A transition triple from Larentzakis got the Reds within 69-60 with 1:48 to go, but Deck scored on the ensuing possession to seal the deal.
Gabriel Deck set the tone early, and had 10 first-quarter points on the way to becoming Real's top scorer for the night with 18 points. By going 7-for-7 on two-point shooting, Deck also became the only Real player not named Walter Tavares with at least 7 made two-point shots in a single game this season.
Real allowed 108 points earlier in the week in a loss against Anadolu Efes Istanbul, but stepped up on the defensive end and had no letdowns during this game, allowing just 63 points, tied for its third-fewest this season.
Reyes makes impact
Felipe Reyes made his third appearance of the season, but the first on home floor and the first as a 41-year old. The best offensive rebounder in EuroLeague history needed less than 25 seconds to get an offensive board, and collected 3 rebounds, 1 block and 1 steal in 5 minutes on the floor in the second quarter, helping Real take a double-digit lead into the second half.
A one-game suspension for Real Head Coach Pablo Laso allowed his long-time assistant Chus Mateo an opportunity to act in the senior role. Mateo previously coached Unicaja Malaga in the EuroLeague in the 2011-12 season.
In the final round of the regular season, Real will be in action on the road fighting for a place in the playoffs against Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul on Thursday, while Olympiacos will wrap up its season a day later when it welcomes Khimki Moscow Region.
Friday, April 2, 2021