Round 23: Marquee wins atop the table
The double-round week for February opened with five Tuesday games, including a rematch from last season's championship game and a clash between Spanish League rivals. In the former, January MVP Shane Larkin shined against as Anadolu Efes Istanbul edged CSKA Moscow in the Russian capital. In the latter, a late free throw by Facundo Campazzo lifted Real Madrid over KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz. Also Tuesday, Zalgiris Kaunas continued its dominance over Olympiacos Piraeus, and ALBA Berlin and DLC ASVEL Villeurbanne snapped losing streaks. Nikola Mirotic, Elijah Bryant and Kevin Punter played big roles as FC Barcelona, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv and Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade rallied from respective double-digit deficits to win on Wednesday.
CSKA Moscow 80-82 Anadolu Efes Istanbul
Anadolu Efes Istanbul defeated CSKA Moscow for the first time in nearly eight years and exacted a bit of revenge from losing last season's Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Championship Game by knocking off the reigning champions 80-82 on the road. Shane Larkin scored 23 points and Vasilije Micic poured in 19 as Efes collected its first win over the Russian powerhouse since February 22, 2013. It was also the first win by Efes this century on CSKA's court in Moscow, after 10 tries. Rodrigue Beaubois added 13 points and Tibor Pleiss chipped in 11 as Efes extended its winning streak to eight games for a 20-3 record, three victories clear of any other team at the top of the standings. CSKA saw its five-game winning streak come to an end despite Mike James scoring 20 points while Johannes Voigtmann added 15 and Daniel Hackett 11. The loss, which was CSKA's first at home to Efes since 1999, dropped its record to 16-7 in the EuroLeague.
Zalgiris Kaunas 94-69 Olympiacos Piraeus
Zalgiris Kaunas tied its largest win of the season by beating visiting Olympiacos Pireaus 94-69 on Tuesday night at a sold-out Zalgirio Arena. It was the third consecutive win and fourth in the last five games for Zalgiris, which improved to 9-13 on the season, the same record as Olympiacos. Zalgiris took control early and never relinquished it thanks to tying a club record with 14 three-pointers and committing just 8 turnovers to turn this affair into a comfortable victory. Zalgiris also earned the head-to-head tiebreak advantage over Olympiacos, overcoming a 9-point loss from earlier this season. Arturas Milaknis paced the winners with 19 points. Thomas Walkup, K.C. Rivers and Martinas Geben scored 12 apiece, while Edgaras Ulanovas and Lukas Lekavicius each had 11 points in the victory. For the visitors, Sasha Vezenkov scored 15 and Augustine Rubit had 10.
LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne 75-65 FC Bayern Munich
LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne snapped a six-game losing streak with tough defense in grabbing a 75-65 victory over FC Bayern Munich. Jordan Taylor and Adreian Payne paced ASVEL with 15 points each while Tonye Jekiri scored 12 points to go with 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals and David Lighty added 10 points. ASVEL won for the first time in 2020 to improve to 9-14. Bayern got 14 points each from Vladimir Lucic and Mathias Lessort but they were not enough as the German champion dropped its eighth game out of the last nine to fall to 7-16.
AX Armani Exchange Milan 96-102 ALBA Berlin
ALBA Berlin invaded the fashion capital and took away a 96-102 road win over AX Armani Exchange Milan to tighten the playoffs race a little more on Tuesday. ALBA raised its record to 8-15, rising out of last place, while Milan fell to 11-12 as it tries to cling to the playoffs positions. In a game with 11 lead changes and nine ties through three quarters, the definitive surge was ALBA's 0-6 run to open the fourth, which quickly developed into a 2-13 knockout blow from which Milan could not recover. Marcus Eriksson led five ALBA double-figure scorers with 22 points. Johannes Thiemann came off the bench for 13, Luke Sikma and Peyton Siva had 12 each, while Landry Nnoko added 11. Milan got 20 points from Vladimir Micov, 15 from Luis Scola, 13 from Sergio Rodriguez, 11 from Nemanja Nedovic and 10 from Drew Crawford.
Real Madrid 70-69 KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz
Real Madrid used some good fortune to pull out a dramatic 70-69 win over visiting KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz on Tuesday night. Real took its record to 17-6, which is second-best in the league, while Baskonia dropped to 8-15 with its sixth consecutive road loss. A margin of 6 points was the largest of the night for each team. In such a close affair, it came down to the final seconds. With Real up 69-67, Shavon Shields took it to the rim and scored with 4.3 seconds to go, seemingly sending the game into overtime. However, as the hosts quickly inbounded the ball, Baskonia's Nik Stuaskas mistakenly fouled Facundo Campazzo despite Baskonia already in the bonus. Campazzo made his first and purposely missed his second free throw with 2.9 seconds on the clock and Real prevailed. Trey Thompkins led Real with 20 points and 6 rebounds. Campazzo finished with 10 points and 11 assists and Gabriel Deck also scored 10 points in the victory. Shields had 14 points for Baskonia, Tornike Shengelia finished with 12 and Matt Janning netted 11 in a losing effort.
Zenit St Peterburg 68-73 Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul fought off a valiant effort by injury-plagued Zenit to win 68-73 in its first-ever visit to St Petersburg, Russia on Wednesday. Fenerbahce's fourth straight road win saw its record rise to 11-12, good for a tie for the last playoff spot with AX Armani Exchange Milan. Zenit fell to 7-16 and continues to share last place. Fenerbahce amassed a 20-37 second-quarter lead only to see Zenit rally to within 4 points on several occasions before the visitors made sure at the end. Leo Westermann led Fenerbahce with 13 points, 11 of which came in the game's last 13 minutes. Kostas Sloukas had 12 points, Jan Vesely and Luigi Datome 11 each for the winners. Gustavo Ayon and Austin Hollins scored 16 each for Zenit, while Will Thomas had 13 and Tim Abromaitis 10.
Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 78-73 Panathinaikos OPAP Athens
Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade came from behind to defeat Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 78-73 in the Serbian capital on Wednesday. Zvezda improved to 10-13 in the standings, snapping a four-game losing streak, while Panathinaikos dropped to 13-9. Kevin Punter led the winners with 24 points and Stratos Perperoglou added 12 in his return from injury for Zvezda. DeShaun Thomas and Georgios Papagiannis paced Panathinaikos with 12 points apiece. Jimmer Fredette scored 11 while Nikos Pappas had 10 for the visitors. Fredette stepped up with 8 points in an 0-11 run that gave Panathinaikos a comfortable lead, 46-57, after 30 minutes. Vladimir Stimac and Perperoglou led a 13-0 run that put the hosts ahead, 68-65, with 3 minutes left. Nick Calathes gave Panathinaikos its last lead, 71-73, but Punter scored 6 of his team's last 7 points to lead Zvezda to its 10th win of the season.
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv 80-77 Khimki Moscow Region
In a thriller between playoffs contenders, Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv rallied from 13 points behind to edge visiting Khimki Moscow Region 80-77 on Wednesday, ending its two-game losing streak. Maccabi's record rose to 15-8, ever closer to a playoff qualification, while Khimki lost its seventh in eight games to fall to 9-15. Elijah Bryant replaced the injured Scottie Wilbekin, Maccabi's top scorer, with 21 points that included many key ones in a tight finish. Tyler Dorsey added 12 points, while teenager Deni Avdija had 11 and 9 rebounds, with Othello Hunter right behind with 10 and 8, respectively. Khimki got 18 points from Alexey Shved and 17 from Jonas Jerebko to go with 13 from Janis Timma and 11 from Stefan Jovic. Khimki went up 34-47 late in the first half, but by early in the second, Maccabi had rallied into the lead, setting the stage for a tug-of-war battle to the finish that Bryant's 3 points in the final minute decided.
Valencia Basket 76-77 FC Barcelona
In an intense showdown that came down to the final play, FC Barcelona registered its fourth consecutive win in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season by edging Valencia Basket 76-77 at La Fonteta on Wednesday. Barcelona improved to 17-6 in the standings while Valencia dropped to 11-12. Nikola Mirotic led the winners with 26 points, including the go-ahead layup with 3.4 seconds left. Fernando San Emeterio paced Valencia with 17 points, Bojan Dubljevic added 14 while Joan Sastre had 10 for the hosts. Valencia led 43-37 at halftime and behind a pair of San Emeterio three-pointers soon after the break stretched the margin to 58-42 margin. It was 68-53 early in the fourth quarter when Thomas Heurtel led an 0-11 run that brought the visitors back. A late Alex Abrines three-pointer and an up-and-under layup by Mirotic allowed Barcelona to win the game.