Real Madrid climbed to the second place in Group C by downing archrivals AXA FC Barcelona 82-79 in front of 13,000 fans in the Spanish capita on Thursday night. Madrid improved to 9-3 and is two wins away from the Group C leader, Panathinaikos, first at 11-1. Meanwhile, Barcelona dropped to 8-4 but will have the tie-break advantage if it ties with Madrid at the end of the regular season. Felipe Reyes and Louis Bullock led the winners each with 14 points. Reyes added 12 rebounds for a double-double. Axel Hervelle added 13 points and 9 rebounds, Charles Smith had 12 points while Kerem Tunceri got 11 for Madrid. Roger Grimau led Barcelona with 14 points. Ersan Ilyasova and Mario Kasun each added 12, Alex Acker had 11 while Gianluca Basile and Fran Vazquez got 10 apiece for the guests. Reyes and Alex Mumbru fueled a 13-0 run that allowed Madrid to get a 26-11 lead after 10 minutes. Barcelona improved its defense and got its last lead, 51-52, on a fast break dunk by Acker midway through the third quarter. It all came down to the final 2 minutes, in which Tunceri followed a six-meter jumper with 4-for-4 free throws to seal the outcome down the stretch.
Smith got Madrid going with a driving layup while Lazaros Papadopoulos fed Reyes for an easy basket, good for a 4-0 Madrid lead. Barcelona had opted to place Kasun and Denis Marconato in the starting lineup, so Madrid opted to speed up the game tempo since the opening basket. Reyes hit free throws that Acker erased with a driving basket. Lakovic fired in his first three-pointer but Tunceri answered from downtown to keep Madrid ahead, 9-5. Ilyasova scored around the basket and soon added a wild put-back dunk to keep Barcelona in the game, 11-9. Reyes sank a five-meter jumper that Smith followed with a fast break layup for a 15-9 Madrid lead. Alex Mumbru took over with a reverse layup, as Barcelona even missed open shots now. Madrid was on fire, Tunceri made free throws while Smith buried a step-back triple that made the guests call timeout at 22-9. Barcelona had missed 6 consecutive shots and committed 3 turnovers. Meanwhile, Papadopoulos stepped up with a power basket that capped a 13-0 run for a 15-point lead at 24-9. Fran Vazquez tried to change things with a dunk that Axel Hervelle picked up a loose ball and hit a jumper for a 26-11 Madrid lead after 10 minutes.
Barcelona tried to change the game momentum with Pepe Sanchez on court, as Roger Grimau tried to ignit the guests' comeback with a driving layup. Sanchez added free throws for a 26-15 deficit. Madrid did not panic, as Blagota Sekulic stepped up with a turnaround jumper that Kasun erased with a reverse layup. Gianluca Basile found his first points on a long two-pointer to give Barcelona some hope at 28-19. Madrid struggled to score against the guests' physical defense while Grimau followed a driving basket with free throws for a 28-23 Barcelona deficit, after a 2-12 run. Hervelle stepped up with a reverse layup that Basile erased with free throws. Hervelle, Basile and Mumbru was next on the foul line for a 35-26 score, as Papadopoulos picked up his third foul. Grimau buried a bomb from downtown and Basile added a fast break layup to make it a four-point game, 35-31. Madrid called a much-needed timeout but the hosts could not find the way to the basket. Vazquez scored around the basket but a free throw by Papadopoulos and a big basket by Sergio Llull gave Madrid some air at 38-33. Free throws by Grimau and Llull fixed the score at 40-35 as both teams headed to the locker rooms.
Marconato scored around the basket soon after the break while Basile fired in a three-pointer from the right wing to tie the game at 40-40. Reyes stepped up with free throws that Vazquez matched with a baseline jumper. Madrid kept attacking the basket, as Mumbru scored in the low post while Reyes added a power layup for a 44-40 edge. Ilyasova shined with a driving layup but Madrid failed to adjust its defense, allowing too many easy shots. Sanchez fed Vazquez for an uncontested dunk that tied the game again, 46-46, midway through the third quarter. Bullock buried a fallaway jumper but Acker immediately answered in the other end to keep the game tied at 48-48. Bullock kept pacing Madrid with a corner three-pointer, but Vazquez sank a five-meter shot while a fast break dunk by Acker gave Barcelona its first lead of the night, 51-52. Reyes made a free throw, as the hosts struggled to find good options for its big men now. Meanwhile, Ilyasova buried an incredible triple to make Barcelona regain the lead, 52-55. Hervelle and Bullock made one free throw apiece while once again Hervelle beat the buzzer with a big dunk to make Madrid regain a 56-55 edge after 30 minutes.
Madrid improved its defense early in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Reyes dunked it while Bullock buried a mid-range jumper for a 60-55 Madrid lead, after an 8-0 run. Kasun followed free throws with a close jumper to keep Barcelona in the game, 62-59. Smith provided a highlight with a huge dunk in traffic and then sent the crowd to their feet with a bomb from downtown to make the guests call timeout at 68-59. Kasun kept pacing Madrid with a power dunk but an unstoppable Hervelle answered in the same way to keep a nine-point Madrid lead, 70-61. Ilyasova beat the shot clock buzzer with a three-pointer while Acker also stroke from downtown to bring Barcelona back to life, 70-67. Bullock joined the three-point shootout but a floating jumper by Kasun off a Barcelona timeout got the guests within 73-69. Sanchez fired in a wide open triple to make it a one-point game, 73-72. Bullock answered from downtown while free throws by Bullock brought Barcelona within 76-74 with 2 minutes remaining. Tunceri sank a six-meter shot that Acker matched with free throws. Hervelle had a key block on Marconato while an unsportsmanlike foul on Sanchez allowed Tunceri to seal the outcome, 82-76, with 21 seconds to go.
Thursday, January 17, 2008