Game Center: Crucial wins in playoffs race
Two home teams mounted second half comebacks to claim crucial victories in the race for the playoffs on Friday night, with Zalgiris Kaunas and KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz overcoming Panathinaikos OPAP Athens and AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan respectively. There was also a huge shock as Buducnost VOLI Podgorica downed Real Madrid, while Anadolu Efes claimed Istanbul bragging rights by downing Darussafaka Tekfen.
CSKA Moscow 77-70 FC Bayern Munich
CSKA trailed for more than three quarters, but pulled away late to muscle out a 77-70 win over visiting Bayern in the Round 19 opener on Thursday night. With the win, CSKA improved to 14-5 to remain in third place in the standings, while Bayern dropped to 9-10. CSKA was down by 13 points in the first quarter and did not take its first lead until there was 6:42 left in the fourth quarter, but used inspiration from Joel Bolomboy and Sergio Rodriguez down the stretch to pull out the victory. Will Clyburn was CSKA's top performer with 20 points and 8 rebounds. Bayern had five players in double figures, with Petteri Koponen and Nihad Dedovic scoring 12 apiece.
Olympiacos Piraeus 71-57 Khimki Moscow Region
Olympiacos claimed its seventh consecutive home victory by breezing past Khimki and former coach Georgios Bartzokas 71-57 on Thursday night. The Reds led from start to finish and were up by 20 late in the third quarter, never looking in trouble despite a brief rally from Khimki early in the final stanza. Sasha Vezenkov and Kostas Papanikolaou led the scoring for the winning team with 14 points each. Jordan Mickey excelled for Khimki, pairing 21 points with 7 rebounds. Olympiacos improved to 12-7, while Khimki dropped to 7-12.
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv 99-83 FC Barcelona Lassa
Maccabi led for all but one possession and was up by as many as 38 points in beating visiting Barcelona 99-83 for its third straight win on Thursday night. The win improved Maccabi's record to 8-11, while Barcelona dropped to 11-8. Maccabi hit 8 triples and scored 34 points in the second quarter when it pulled away to a 22-point halftime lead. Barcelona made a huge 0-20 run to start the fourth quarter, but still never got closer than 13 points. Tarik Black finished as Maccabi's top scorer with 16 points. Pau Ribas led Barcelona with 13 points.
Herbalife Gran Canaria 64-82 Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul
Fenerbahce had little trouble in cruising to a 64-82 victory at Herbalife Gran Canaria on Thursday night to remain atop the EuroLeague standings. Nikola Kalinic led the way for Fenerbahce with 16 points, while Jan Vesely had 13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals and 3 blocks. Fenerbahce improved to 16-2 with a second straight win after a loss that snapped a 12-game winning streak. Gran Canara lost its fourth straight game and sixth out of its last seven to fall to 6-13 despite a career-high 21 points from Kim Tillie. Gran Canaria kept it close and entered the fourth quarter trailing by 5 before the visitors used runs of 2-10 and 0-9 to put the game away.
Anadolu Efes Istanbul 82-68 Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul
Anadolu Efes Istanbul recorded its fourth consecutive win at home on Friday by downing cross-town rivals Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul 82-68. Efes improved to 13-6 in the standings to remain in fourth place while Darussafaka dropped to 2-17 and is 16th overall. Adrien Moerman led the winners with 15 points. Vasilije Micic added 11 while Rodrigue Beaubois had 10 for Efes. Toney Douglas led Darussafaka with 17 points. Jeremy Evans added 14 for the guests. Efes led 21-14 after 10 minutes, extended its margin to 45-25 at halftime and then again to 74-48 midway through the fourth quarter, more than enough to seal the outcome.
Buducnost VOLI Podgorica 73-60 Real Madrid
Buducnost VOLI Podgorica stunned reigning EuroLeague champions Real Madrid with a deserved 73-60 home win on Friday night. Madrid, which is eyeing another top four finish, falls to 15-4, while Buducnost claimed its fifth win of the season, and two in a row for the first time. Buducnost was in front for nearly the whole game and ended with five players on double digits scoring, led by Norris Cole with 14. Two players bagged double-doubles as Coty Clarke claimed 12 points and 12 rebounds, while teenager Goga Bitadze had 13 points, 10 boards and 3 blocked shots. Edwin Jackson and Earl Clark both scored 10. Sergio Llull top scored for Madrid with 10 points.
Zalgiris Kaunas 82-69 Panathinaikos OPAP Athens
In a hard-fought battle, Zalgiris Kaunas rallied from a first-half double-digit deficit to down visiting Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 82-69 at the Zalgirio Arena on Friday night. With this win Zalgiris swept Panathinaikos to take a tie-break advantage. Currently, both teams stand at 8-11 in a four-way share of ninth place in the standings. Zalgiris used a 13-0 spurt to open the third quarter and take the lead for good, and a 10-2 run to open the fourth and pave the way to victory. Aaron White scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half, and Marius Grigonis netted 13. Brandon Davies and Nate Wolters contributed with 10 points apiece for Zalgiris. DeShaun Thomas paced Panathinaikos with 14 points, Nick Calathes had 11 points and 6 assists, and Sean Kilpatrick also scored 11 on his debut.
KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz 80-75 AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan
In a thriller that went down to the wire, KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz grabbed his ninth win in the by edging AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan 80-75 at Fernando Buesa Arena on Friday. Baskonia improved to 9-10 in the standings and entered playoffs territory, as it ranks 8th overall. Milan dropped to 8-11 and is now 9th in the standings. Vincent Poirier led the winners with 17 points and 8 rebounds. Marcelinho Huertas added 13 points, Shavon Shields had 12, Johannes Voigtmann 11 and 10 rebounds while Luca Vildoza dished 12 assists for Baskonia. Mike James led Milan with 27 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists.