Fates took different directions after overtime in Group B on Thursday as Olympiacos outgunned Efes Pilsen 85-93 in a thriller on the road in Istanbul. The win pushed Olympiacos a step closer to becoming group champ at 7-2, while Efes dropped to 3-6 and no longer depends on itself to make the Top 16. Olympiacos dominated during most of the game and a 0-12 in the last period seemed to seal the deal. But a stellar Charles Smith brought Efes back to life as regulation ended with a 76-76 tie. In the extra session however, triples by new arrival Scoonie Penn and Josh Childress lifted the Reds to clear victory. Childress led all scorers with his 23 points, and 5 rebounds, Milos Teodosic added 17 and Linas Kleiza helped with 16 and 9 boards for the winners. For Efes, Smith had 18 points, all in the second half. Kaya Peker also added 18 plus 7 boards, Preston Shumpert chipped in with 15 and Dan Santiago had 12.
Kleiza appeared at the wing for the game's first three-pointer and Yotam Halperin soon added a layup in transition for a quick 0-5 Olympiacos lead. Peker's putback of an offensive rebound got Efes on the scoreboard, and he soon made it 4-7 on a great move in the low post. However, the Efes defense let Kleiza loose again, this time for a three-point play that kept the Reds safely ahead. Peker kept Efes in the game for the moment, but some pyrotechnics by Childress on the baseline made it 6-12 for Olympiacos. Shumpert finally hit th first Efes three-pointer, from the corner, but otherwise turnovers by the hosts allowed Olympiacos easy fastbreak baskets. When the Reds played half-court offense, however, Efes held steady, eventually allowing Kerem Tunceri to score and make it a one-point game, 13-14. Panagiotis Vasilopoulos and Shumpert traded triples now, but Kleiza soon climbed the baseline to slam the ball for his tenth point. Shumpert struck back from the arc to tie the game for the first time, 19-19, and when Daniel Santiago slammed again, Efes had its first lead to end the quarter 21-19 as the fans went wild in the stands.
Loukas Mavrokefalides dunked on the break to open the second quarter for Olympiacos with another tie. The Efes defense otherwise concentrated on double-teaming the low post to force Olympiacos' big men to the fouline line, where the guests were just 2 of 8 on free throws until then. Santiago's impact on the game was being noticed on both ends. On offense, his three-point kept Efes ahead, but only until Vasilopoulos drop-stepped to an open layup and a 24-24 tie. Efes was improving its efficiency from the arc by the minute as Bootsy Thornton hit a new triple and Sinan Guler added a jumper for the hosts' biggest lead so far, 29-24. Childress answered from downtown to send a message from Olympiacos, but both defenses were now working at their max, and neither team was finding easy baskets anymore. Halperin ended the trend for the Reds to tie the game again, then Klieza's 2 for 2 free throws put the guests ahead one more time. On the other end Peker fought against all elements to keep Efes in rhythm, but Olympiacos used long passes now for open shots as Patrick Beverley's free throws ended a 2-12 Olympiacos run with the Reds up suddenly by 35-41 at halftime.
Peker opened the second half scoring for Efes before Smith stole and slammed to trim the gap to 39-41. Teodosic brought the Reds back to life and Kleiza added a low-post basket that restored a six-point lead. Smith and Teodosic shared offensive duties for their teams now, the latter with a four-point play that kept the guests ahead 44-51. Peker replied with a long jumper and Smith repeated his steal-and-slam routine to keep Efes close. Smith scored again to make it a one-point game, 52-53, but Ioannis Bouroussis stepped up to stop the bleeding for Olympiacos from the low post. Mario Kasun's free throw meant the only point in the quarter by an Efes player other than Peker or Smith, but an alley-oop finish by Vasilopoulos allowed Olympiacos to lead 53-58 after 30 minutes.
Smith, on fire, opened the last quarter with consecutive baskets to pull Efes within 57-58. Childress found free throws for Olympiacos, but Santiago matched those, put back and offensive rebond and the foul shot that came with it to let Efes go ahead again, 62-59. Mavrokefalides and Santiago traded baskets as Efes entered foul trouble with four each for Smith, Shumpert and Peker. Olympiacos struggled at the free throw line while Smith kept Efes in front by 66-61 with 6 minutes to go. Just as suddenly, Olympiacos turned things around as a Childress sparked a 0-8 run that zoomed the Reds into the lead, 66-69, on Nikola Vujcic's layup. And the visitors weren't finished. After Teodosic hit free throws, Kleiza's offensive board allowed Vujcic to increase the run to 0-12. Shumpert ended the Efes drought with a heroic three-pointer from the corner, and when Smith did the same, the crowd went wild as the scoreboard showed 72-73. Teodosic answered with a triple for the Reds before Tunceri fed Peker for a 74-76 score going into the last minute. Again it was Peker, this time on a tip-in, who tied the score with 30 seconds left. Each team missed a chance after that, however, sending the game to overtime.
Peker - who else? - opened the scoring in overtime but on the following play committed his fifth foul, which was bad news for Efes. Teodosic came to the rescue for the Reds, hitting a huge eight-meter three-pointer to tie, then feeding Bouroussis for a new Olympiacos lead, 80-82. An Efes turnover allowed Childress an easy layup at 80-84. Shumpert and Penn traded triples before Childress, with less than 1 minute to go, blasted a new corner triple that veritably sealed the outcome, 83-90. Free throws by Vasilopoulos preserved the victory for the Reds, who continue to seek first place while Efes fights for survival.
Thursday, January 7, 2010