Madrid conquers Belgrade to remain undefeated
In front of one of the biggest crowds in Turkish Airlines Euroleague history, Real Madrid never trailed to remain unbeaten on the season, downing Partizan NIS Belgrade 64-80 in the Serbian capital on Thursday. On the opening night of the Top 16, 21,374 fans packed Kombank Arena. Partizan was missing head coach Dusko Vujosevic. After being hospitalized for kidney problems for a few days last week, Vujosevic was not cleared to be on the sidelines against Real Madrid and was replaced by his assistant Velimir Gasic. The visitors jumped to a double-digit lead early on, but resilient Partizan was never out of the game until Marcus Slaughter and Rudy Fernandez fueled a 0-10 run in the fourth quarter. Fernandez and Sergio Rodriguez paced the winner with 16 points apiece. Ioannis Bourousis collected 15 points plus 9 rebounds, while Felipe Reyes chipped in with 10 for the visitors. Tarence Kinsey had 17 points for the hosts, Bogdan Bogdanovic netted 15 while Joffrey Lauvergne amassed 13 points plus 13 rebounds in defeat.
First quarter: Madrid’s big men hit from long range
Both offenses opened the game in a good rhythm. Fernandez started the scoring with a long jumper, and Nikola Milutinov answered with a big dunk. Nikola Mirotic scored a put-back for Madrid, but Dragan Milosavljevic hit a long jumper for Partizan, 4-4. The visitors went in front with a layup from Tremmell Darden and a triple from Mirotic. Bogdanovic answered with a three-pointer of his own, but Bourousis and Mirotic made a pair of free throws apiece for a 7-13 lead. Kinsey made a spectacular put-back dunk, before trading triples with Fernandez and closing the gap to 13-16. But Madrid held the hosts without a field goal for almost four minutes to end the quarter, meanwhile Fernandez and Bourousis scored from close range to spark Real’s a run. Bourousis nailed a triple and added a basket-plus foul to the tally, before Reyes hit from downtown just before the buzzer for a 17-29 advantage at the end of the first.
Second quarter: Partizan refuses to go away
Kinsey made a shot to start the quarter, ending Partizan’s drought. Sergio Llull hit a triple, but Kinsey made a jumper-plus-free throw, 22-32. The hosts switched to a 1-3-1 zone defense, and got closer with a layup from Bogdanovic and a fastbreak basket from Milosavljevic. After Reyes and Bogdanovic traded triples, Lauvergne made a put-back to get within 5. Bourousis had an easy dunk for the visitors, but Lauvergne scored a layup-plus-foul, drawing Partizan within 35-39. Madrid stayed in control with Rodriguez sinking triple and Reyes scoring on a breakaway. After a timeout, Partizan answered with a put-back from Lauvergne and a driving layup Milosavljevic, before Rodriguez hit from long range, giving Real Madrid a 39-47 halftime lead.
Third quarter: The defenses stand tall
Baskets came few and far between at the start of the third quarter. A pair of free throws from Bourousis were the only Real Madrid points in more than five minutes, while Milosavljevic put back his own miss for 41-49. Fernandez made 2 free throws, but Milutinov scored inside as the hosts came within 45-51. After more than seven minutes of action, Fernandez scored a layup on a back-door cut, Madrid’s first field goal of the half. A minute later, Fernandez drove for a layup and 45-56. Slaughter also scored inside for the visitors, before Kinsey made it 49-58 at the end of the quarter.
Fourth quarter: Madrid pulls away and closes it out
After Rodriguez and Bogdanovic traded three-pointers, Lauvergne and Kinsey combined to score 3 of 4 shots from the foul line, but Rodriguez hit a runner for 55-63. Lauvergne scored more free throws, but an alley-oop dunk from Marcus Slaughter, and triples from Darden and Fernandez gave Madrid 57-71 midway through the fourth. Slaughter made it a 16-point margin before Milutinov snapped a 0-10 run. After building the margin, the visitors kept it from the foul line, while Lauvergne made a fastbreak dunk for 61-77. Kinsey hit a long jumper, but Rodriguez hit a three-pointer to close it out.
Thursday, January 2, 2014