Panathinaikos OPAP Athens registered its fourth win of the season, but as the Greens were closing out the game against Valencia Basket on Friday night, all eyes were on Nick Calathes as he closed in on his second career triple-double.
In the end Calathes fell one assist short, finishing with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists, but for the bigger picture it was more important that Panathinaikos held off Valencia and a fantastic effort by Jordan Loyd who had 27 points shooting 8-for-10 field goals, while also collecting 8 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals and 1 block.
A detail that can make Panathinaikos coach Argyris Pedoulakis happy is that those 9 assists by Calathes were less than half of the 19 total assists dished by Panathinaikos players. Not unusual for most teams, but certainly against the trend Panathinaikos has been riding because this is only the second time this season Calathes did not have at least half of Panathinaikos' total assists. The first time it happened, Calathes dished a season-low 4, and the team had a season-worst 11.
Even more importantly, this is the fourth consecutive game in which Panathinaikos amassed at least 19 assists. The team is averaging an impressive 21.5 assists over the last four games, after posting just 13.0 in the first three games of the season.
On this night it certainly also helped that the team made 10 of 19 three-pointers, but that was the first time this season Panathinaikos shot triples better than 50%. The way the team has been sharing the ball, and with at least 8 different players getting one assist or more on Friday night, is a huge improvement from some of the performances in early October and the main reason Panathinaikos has won three of its last four games.