Real Madrid was too proud let it happen again. The visitors from Spain resisted both Krka Novo Mesto and its 3,000 fans to post a 79-95 road victory that almost guarantees passage to the Top 16. Madrid (7-2) not only boosted its own record but dropped Krka (3-6) to the bottom edge of the list of potential playoff pursuers. The victory erased the memory of Krka's early-season upset in Madrid and reenforced the visitors' improving reputation through six wins in the subsequent seven games. Aleksandar Djordjevic again was there when Madrid needed him, scoring 19 points, 12 in the first half, when he but it was Dragan Tarlac (12 total, 10 before halftime) established solid leads that the visitors never lost Newly signed backup Jean Marc Jaumin added 11 for Madrid. Novo Mesto was led by Jaka Lakovic with 22 points, 16 fewer than he had when Krka shocked everyone by winning in Madrid in October. Mate Skelin added 17 and Davison Bennett 13 for the losers.
Krka coach Ales Pipan surprised people by not starting Lakovic, who was replaced by young Aleksandar Capin. Both sides started aggressively, with an early Davison jumper giging Krka a 6-5 lead. Madrid's players look like they were suprised but settled down to see Alberto Angulo give them their first lead at 10-11. A three-pointer from Djordjevic increased that lead to 14-20. Then Ales Pipan took his first timeout when Madrid led 16-24 on antoher Djordjevic basket. He was up to 10 points. A three by Boris Samanic help Krka cut it to 24-30, however before the quarter ended.
Hope blossomed for the fans as the second quarter started with a three-pointer from Samo Grum, but right after that he get his third foul and was replaced by Capin. With Cjordjevic resting, Tarlac stepped up now to increaese the lead 30-38 and then 33-42. Krka was missing shots and developing foul trouble, as Davison got his third, too. A three-pointer by Lakovic woke Krka wakes up as the lead was slowed to 38-44, but Tarlac got to the line for three free throws the first half ended 41-49 for the visitors.
The third quarter gave brief hope to the crowd again as a Davison slam off a feed by Lakovic lowered the deficit to 45-51. But Krka made mistakes than connections on offense and soon Real lead by 47-59 after two points from Zan Tabak. All that and Djordjevic remained unstoppable, getting all his 19 points before the end of the third quarter, by which time the visitors led 56-70.
Lakovic opened the final quarter with five straight points but could only cut the lead to 61-74. When Alberto Herreros answered Lakovic with his first three-pointer, Madrid was going to be safe from miraculous comebacks. Real was the better team tonight and six more minutes wasn't going to change that fact.
Wednesday, December 19, 2001