Game Center: Barca to brink of playoffs
FC Barcelona ended a busy week in style by becoming the first team to 20 victories this season, a step away from a playoffs qualification, by turning back red-hot Baskonia 71-57. Milan, Bayern, Efes, Real and Fenerbahce were the other playoff-positioned teams to solidify their chances with victories, with the first three of them completing, as did Barcelona, sweeps of the double-round week. Milan won on the road at Zalgiris, Efes ruled at home against second-place CSKA, Real took down host Zenit, and Fenerbahce outlasted ASVEL away. Elsewhere, Maccabi and Olympiacos ended losing streaks with home wins over Valencia and Zvezda, respectively, while ALBA got its 10th win away at Khimki. ALBA's Marcus Eriksson tied the EuroLeague record for triples made in a single game, with 10, while Olympiacos legend Georgios Printezis took over the all-time lead in two-pointers, with 1,139.
Zenit St Petersburg 71-75 Real Madrid
Real Madrid bounced back from a stunning loss two days before to take down Zenit St Petersburg 71-75 on the road at Sibur Arena on Thursday. Real outscored the hosts 2-9 over the game's final 2 and a half minutes to claim the victory and leapfrog Zenit in the standings. Los Blancos improved to 17-11 and send Zenit down to 16-11. The victory also gave Real a season-sweep for Zenit. Walter Tavares shined for Real with 16 points and 9 rebounds despite being limited to 23 minutes by foul trouble. Gabriel Deck added 15 points for the visitors. Kevin Pangos led Zenit with 14 points and 7 assists, Billy Baron scored 12, Alex Poythress 11 and Mateusz Ponitka 10.
Anadolu Efes Istanbul 100-70 CSKA Moscow
Anadolu Efes Istanbul remained one of the hottest teams in the EuroLeague with a 100-70 domination of CSKA Moscow at Sinan Erdem Sports Hall on Thursday. Vasilije Micic collected 21 points for Efes, which won its sixth straight game and its ninth in its last 10 to improve to 17-10. Sertac Sanli scored 14 points, Chris Singleton had 12 and Shane Larkin, Rodrigue Beaubois and Krunoslav Simon netted 11 in what was just the second Efes win in the last 13 matchups with CSKA - including the 2019 championship game. CSKA, which had won the first game against Efes this season at home by 35 points, dropped to 18-9 despite Toko Shengelia scoring 14 points and Johannes Voigtmann chipping in 10 points.
Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv 84-72 Valencia Basket
Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv snapped a four-game losing streak by downing Valencia Basket 84-72 at Menora Mivtachim Arena on Thursday night. The hosts trailed 14-18 at the end of the first quarter and 33-35 at halftime, but managed to score 51 points after the break to dominate Valencia. Tyler Dorsey paced the winners with 17 points and 7 fouls drawn for a 24 PIR off the bench. Omri Casspi and Chris Jones followed him with 14 points apiece, while Ante Zizic tallied 13 points and 6 boards in 16 minutes for Maccabi, whose record improved to 11-15. Louis Labeyrie had 18 points on 3-of-5 three-point shooting, Sam Van Rossom scored 14 and Nikola Kalinic had 11 for Valencia, which dropped to 14-14 with the loss.
FC Bayern Munich 76-71 Panathinaikos OPAP Athens
FC Bayern Munich took another step towards its goal of reaching the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague playoffs by downing Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 76-71 at Audi Dome on Thursday. Bayern won its third straight game to improve to 18-10. It has registered six victories in its last seven games. Meanwhile, Panathinaikos dropped to 9-17 and is on a three-game losing streak. Wade Baldwin IV led the winners with 27 points and Vladimir Lucic added 14 for Bayern. Mario Hezonja paced Panathinaikos with 14 points and Georgios Papagiannis and Lefteris Bochoridis each had 10 for the Greens. With the game tied at 61-61, Lucic and an outstanding Baldwin made the difference down the stretch.
Khimki Moscow Region 81-100 ALBA Berlin
ALBA Berlin snapped a three-game road losing streak in picking up an 81-100 victory at Khimki Moscow Region thanks to a historic showing by Marcus Eriksson. The ALBA sharp-shooter tied the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague record of 10 made three-pointers in scoring a career-high and club-record 36 points while registering a performance index rating of 41, another personal high. Luke Sikma and Simone Fontecchio added 18 points each. Ben Lammers collected 11 points and Peyton Siva matched him while distributing 9 assists. The win improved ALBA's record to 10-18 and 5-9 on the road. Khimki played a strong first half but could not stop Eriksson and the ALBA bombers as its record fell to 3-24. Khimki wasted a career-high 29 points from Jordan Mickey while Alexey Shved had 15 points, 7 rebounds, 12 assists and 3 steals and Errick McCollum tallied 12 points.
Zalgiris Kaunas 64-69 AX Armani Exchange Milan
AX Armani Exchange Milan returned to winning ways in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season by topping Zalgiris Kaunas 64-69 on the road on Friday. Milan improved to 18-10 in the standings and registered its eighth road victory in the current EuroLeague campaign. Zalgiris dropped to 15-13 and saw its seven-game home win streak ended. Shavon Shields led the winners with 23 points. Kevin Punter added 14 while Kyle Hines and Luigi Datome each had 10 for Milan. Marius Grigonis led Zalgiris with 17 points. Joffrey Lauvergne added 15 while Lukas Lekavicius had 11 for the hosts. Punter had 9 first-quarter points to give Milan a 13-17 lead after 10 minutes. Zalgiris got within 32-34 at halftime but Milan improved its defense after the break, boosting its margin to 45-50 at the end of the third quarter. Grigonis and Lekavicius brought Zalgiris within 62-64 but Punter downed a jumper and Shields added 3-of-4 free throws to seal the victory.
Olympiacos Piraeus 94-79 Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade
Olympiacos Piraeus snapped its seven-game losing streak and kept alive its playoff hopes with a 94-79 win over visiting Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade on Friday night. The win moved Olympiacos up to a 12-17 record, while already-eliminated Zvezda saw its own losing streak extended to eight games, dropping to 7-21. Olympiacos led the entire first half and, after Zvezda took a slim lead after the break, the hosts used a 12-1 run bridging third and fourth quarters to pull away and close out the victory. Shaquielle McKissic paced Olympiacos with 20 points. Sasha Vezenkov netted 17, while Kostas Sloukas had 14 points and 7 assists in the winning effort. Marko Simonovic netted 19 points, making 5 of 8 three-pointers for Zvezda. Ognjen Dobric had 11 points and Jordan Loyd finished with 10.
LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne 86-90 Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul earned a big win in the fight for the playoffs as it defeated LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne 86-90 on the road on Friday. Nando De Colo poured in 24 points as Fenerbahce improved to 17-11 with its 12th win in the last 13 games. Marko Guduric and Dyshawn Pierre both added 13 points and Kyle O'Quinn picked up 11 points in the victory. ASVEL had David Lighty lead the way with 15 points while Norris Cole and Ismael Bako both tallied 14 and William Howard had 12. ASVEL, having lost two in a row since a six-game winning streak, fell to 12-16.
FC Barcelona 71-57 TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz
FC Barcelona took another step closer to qualifying for the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs by downing TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz 71-57 at Palau Blaugrana on Friday, which was head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius's 45th birthday. Barcelona improved to 20-8 in the regular season standings to stay in first place, two victories above all other teams. Meanwhile, Baskonia dropped to 14-14 and has three more losses than the eighth ranked team, Zenit St Petersburg (16-11). Nikola Mirotic led the winners with 18 points and Cory Higgins added 13. Baskonia got 12 points from Youssoupha Fall and 11 from Rokas Giedraitis. Barcelona led 25-4 after 10 minutes but Baskonia rallied to tie it at 40-40. A 7-0 run gave Barcelona the lead for good, 47-40, and three-pointers by Adam Hanga, Higgins and Mirotic sealed the outcome in crunch time.