Round 21: Barcelona overtakes first place
First place changed hands again in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague in Round 21 as Barcelona (15-6) won on the road in Belgrade to tie CSKA Moscow (15-6) and take the top spot based on having beaten the Russian giant twice this season. Zenit (13-6) and Milan (13-7) stayed close with home victories, while Zalgiris (12-9) won on the buzzer to share sixth place with Bayern (12-9). Its win in Moscow tied Fenerbahce (11-9) with road losers Efes, Valencia and Olympiacos for the eighth and final playoffs position, while Maccabi (10-11) stayed right behind them by beating fifth-place Real (13-8). ALBA, (8-13) was the third of three road winners, while ASVEL (7-13) triumphed at home as did Panathinaikos (7-13), with its first victory under new coach Oded Kattash.
Zenit St Petersburg 85-78 Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Zenit St Petersburg led all game long but needed to withstand a big Anadolu Efes Istanbul rally to win 85-78 on Thursday at Sibur Arena, completing a sweep in their head-to-head regular season series. With seven players scoring in double figures, Zenit registered its fifth win in the last six games, improving to a 13-6 record, while Efes dropped to 11-10 on the season. Zenit took control and led by double digits in the first quarter before knocking down 6 triples in the second to open a 23-point margin that was still 53-31 at halftime. But Efes rallied in the third quarter behind Vasilije Micic and quickly got within 59-53 to make it a game. The visitors would never got closer than 5 points the rest of the way, however, as Billy Baron and Kevin Pangos hit important three-pointers when Efes was dangerously close. Will Thomas scored 14 points to lead Zenit and Arturas Gudaitis had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds. Pangos and Austin Hollins netted 13 points apiece, Andrey Zubkov scored 12, while Mateusz Ponitka and Baron each had 10 points in victory. Micic had 23 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists to lead Efes and Shane Larkin scored 20 points. Bryant Dunston added 10 points plus 9 rebounds, while Chris Singleton scored 10.
Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 94-78 Khimki Moscow Region
Panathinaikos OPAP Athens picked up its first victory under new head coach Oded Kattash in rolling to a 94-78 win at home over Khimki Moscow Region. Dinos Mitoglou poured in a career-high 29 points and Nemanja Nedovic contributed 21 points and 5 assists as Panathinaikos improved to 7-13 with its third triumph in the last four home games. Jordan Mickey collected 25 points and 7 rebounds, Errick McCollum tallied 17 points, 6 assists and 4 steals and Vyacheslav Zaytsev and Dairis Bertans both added 10 points for Khimki, which saw its losing streak extended to 13 games for a 2-19 record. It was the first game since Khimki head coach Rimas Kurtinaitis was fired and replaced in the interim by Andrey Maltsev.
Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv 86-84 Real Madrid
Tyler Dorsey scored a career-high 30 points, including 5 points in the final minute, to help Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv hold off Real Madrid 86-84 for its second straight win at Menora Mivtachim Arena. The Israeli champs improved to 10-11 and dropped Real to 13-8 after its second straight loss. Dorsey missed just 3 shots in amassing his tally for Maccabi. Othello Hunter added 11 points and Scottie Wilbekin paired 9 points with 8 assists. Trey Thompkins shot 4 for 8 on three-pointers to lead Real with 20 points, Walter Tavares added 15 points and Alberto Abalde had 13 points and 7 assists. Real led by 12 in the first quarter, but Maccabi rallied back in the second. It was close late and Real had a final ball to tie or win it, but the Maccabi defense forced Jaycee Carroll into a turnover.
AX Armani Exchange Milan 75-51 FC Bayern Munich
AX Armani Exchange Milan led from tipoff to buzzer in a 75-51 rout of visiting FC Bayern Munich on Thursday night at Mediolanum Forum. In so doing, Milan extended its win streak to four games and improved to a 13-7 record, good for fourth place. Bayern dropped to 12-9 but held on to sixth place for the night. Milan opened the game with a 16-2 run and never looked back. Behind their relentless defensive effort, the hosts held a 22-point lead at halftime that ballooned to as many as 29 points in the third quarter. Sergio Rodriguez paced Milan with 14 points and Kevin Punter netted 12. Riccardo Moraschini had 11 while Zach LeDay collected 10 points plus 8 rebounds in victory. Jalen Reynolds was the only Bayern scorer in double figures, with 12 points.
LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne 90-77 Valencia Basket
LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne flexed its muscles to claim a determined 90-77 home win over Valencia Basket on Thursday night. ASVEL, which was coming off a tough loss to Olympiacos two days earlier, had the better of the first half, leading by as many as 8 points on a couple of occasions. Valencia came out strong in the second half to move ahead, but the home side rallied to lead 61-54 with 10 minutes remaining. The margin was extended steadily in the fourth quarter, reaching as many as 19 points, and that was enough to seal the deal. William Howard led the way with a career-high 17 points, while Guerschon Yabusele added 12 and Derrick Walton Jr and David Lighty both scored 10. Valencia’s Nikola Kalinic top scored with 18 points, Derrick Williams contributed 11 points in defeat, and Mike Tobey posted 9 points and 9 rebounds.
CSKA Moscow 83-89 Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul
On a special night for its superstar guard Nando De Colo, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul registered its sixth consecutive win in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season by downing CSKA Moscow 83-89 in the Russian capital on Friday. Fenerbahce improved to 11-10 in the standings and is now tied on victories for the eighth and final playoffs spot with three other teams. CSKA is now 15-6 after losing its third game in four, putting the first place it has held or shared since late November in jeopardy. Jan Vesely led the winners with 24 points, while De Colo added 22 on near-perfect shooting. Jarrel Eddie scored 17 and DyShawn Piere 10 for Fenerbahce. Toko Shengelia led CSKA with 18 points. Janis Strelnieks, Nikola Milutinov and Daniel Hackett each added 12 while Mike James had 11 for the hosts. Four different CSKA players struck from downtown in the first quarter to give CSKA a 21-15 lead. Eddie and De Colo stepped up for Fenerbahce, then Marko Guduric and Pierre each hit a triple for a 38-38 tie at halftime. Daniel Hackett and Strelnieks helped CSKA get a 66-63 edge at the end of the third quarter. With the game tied at 78-78, Vesely and De Colo fueled a 2-9 run which sealed the outcome.
Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 60-72 FC Barcelona
FC Barcelona led from start to finish, using one of the best defensive efforts this season in beating Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 60-72 on Friday night in the Serbian capital. A fourth consecutive win improved Barcelona to a league-best 15-6 record, the same as CSKA Moscow, but Barcelona climbs back to the top of the standings due to a tiebreak advantage over CSKA. Meanwhile, Zvezda drops to 7-14, four wins behind the playoffs spots. Barcelona needed 6 minutes to open a double-digit lead, but Zvezda caught up behind three-pointers from Corey Walden and Ognjen Dobric and was within 31-35 at halftime. But Barcelona remained in front and then used a 2-17 run bridging third and fourth quarters to pull away to a 21-point margin and cruised to victory. Cory Higgins paced the winners with 14 points. Pierre Oriola collected 12 points plus 7 rebounds, Rolands Smits scored 11, and Nick Calathes had 10 points and 5 assists for Barcelona. Dobric was the only Zvezda player in double figures with 11 points.
Zalgiris Kaunas 81-79 Olympiacos Piraeus
Zalgiris Kaunas edged out Olympiacos Piraeus in an 81-79 thriller on Friday night as Thomas Walkup scored with 1 second remaining to cap a 9-0 run in the last two minutes. The first half was fast moving as both offenses found their rhythm, and Zalgiris led 45-44 at half-time. The home side threatened to pull clear in the third quarter but Olympiacos kept battling, and a flurry of three-pointers gave the visitors control late on. It was 72-79 with two minutes remaining but Olympiacos couldn’t score again and Zalgiris produced a series of big plays, culminating in Walkup’s steal and score. Joffrey Lauvergne led the winning side with 21 points and 7 rebounds, while Arturas Milaknis scored 11 and Augustine Rubit added 10. Olympiacos was paced by 16 points apiece for veterans Kostas Sloukas and Georgios Printezis, and Sasha Vezenkov added 11 points in defeat. The victory keeps Zalgiris in the playoffs places with a 12-9 record, just ahead of Olympiacos (11-10).