Miller leads Crvena Zvezda to big victory
Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade led from start to finish in beating depleted Cedevita Zagreb 94-74 in front of a packed house at legendary Hala Pionir on Thursday night. The win improved Zvezda to 4-3 and at least a share of third place at the midway points in Group E, while Cedevita dropped its third straight game and has a 2-5 record. With tennis superstar and world’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic sitting courtside cheer on the hosts, Zvezda led by Quincy Miller got off to a flying start, using a 12-0 run to build a 26-9 lead. But Cedevita got into its rhythm, and led by Jacob Pullen kept melting the deficit. The hosts led 43-32 at halftime, but in the third quarter Cedevita closed within 6 points and had a couple of possessions to get even closer. However, in the fourth, Marko Guduric hit three triples, Vasilije Micic and Branko Lazic also hit one each, and Zvezda pulled away for good. Miller finished with 22 points, Micic had 14 points and 9 assists, while Guduric netted 13 points. Maik Zirbes added 10, while Vladimir Stimac collected 13 rebounds to go along 6 points in victory. Pullen scored 20 points for Cedevita, James White tallied 18 points and 7 rebounds, while Miro Bilan posted 17 points and 5 assists in the losing effort.
First quarter: Zvezda gets off to a flying start
Miller opened the scoring with a three-point play, and after Bilan made fouls shots to open Cedevita’s account, Zvezda went on a 12-0 run. Miller sparked things with a triple and Zirbes made a put-back, before Dangubic hit a triple followed by a coast-to-coast layup for a 13-2 start. After Micic’s free throws, White cut the baseline for a dunk, which was Cedevita's first field goal of the night after five minutes. Micic bettered it with a triple, and after Pullen drove for a layup, Vladimir Stimac scored inside, and Miller drove the baseline for a thunderous dunk that made it 22-7. Tarance Kinsey and Guduric extended the margin to 26-9 from the free throw line, before Pullen buried a triple to make it 26-12 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Pullen and Bilan get Cedevita into rhythm
Stimac tipped-in his own miss to start the quarter. Bilan drove for a one-handed slam dunk, before Pullen drove for a layup and White added a close-range basket of his own to cut it to 28-18. Marko Simonovic answered with a four-point play, but Bilan and Pilepic scored inside to keep Cedevita within 32-22. Simonovic nailed another triple, and after Pilepic’s second chance basket, Zirbes had a dunk and beat the shot-clock with an off-balance shot to open a 39-24 lead. But Henry Walker replied with a triple, and after a runner from Branko Lazic, another three-pointer from Walker got Cedevita within 41-32. On the final possession of the second quarter, however, Nikola Rebic made a put-back just before the buzzer to make it 43-32 at halftime.
Third quarter: Cedevita rallies, refuses to go away
At the start of the third quarter, Miller knocked down a corner triple, and Kinsey added a short jumper, 48-32. After a reverse layup from Bilan, Miller banked in a tough runner. But White’s triple sparked a run from Cedevita. Pullen had a driving layup, and also connected with White on a fastbreak to halve the gap to 50-42. Zirbes scored inside, but Cedevita inched even closer with consecutive put-back from Pilepic and Walker. Zirbes scored from close range again, and Micic hit from long range. Three free throws by Miller re-established a double-digit margin, 60-48. But Pullen made a pair of layups in the final 17 seconds of the quarter, including one on a fast break that beat the third-quarter buzzer, and made it 62-56.
Fourth quarter: Zvezda pulls away for good as Guduric catches fire
Guduric hit a triple in the opening minute of the fourth, and after Miller and Bilan traded baskets from close range, Micic hit from long distance to open a 71-58 lead. After a Cedevita timeout, Pilepic nailed a three-pointer, but Guduric answered right back with his second triple of the quarter. White scored from close range for Cedevita, but Lazic joined in on Zvezda’s three-point barrage, nailing one to make it 77-63. White scored another layup, but Miller made a pair of tough driving baskets to get Zvezda closer to victory, 81-65. After another timeout, Bilan nailed a long jumper, but Stimac scored inside, and Guduric hit a high-arching triple from way outside. Micic spun and turned in the lane, finishing a layup to make it 88-69. Before game was over, Tejic and Bilan traded baskets inside, and Micic fed Dangubic for an alley-oop dunk that sent the crowd into a frenzy, and rounded out the scoring at 94-74, for the biggest margin of the night.
Thursday, February 11, 2016