Darussafaka downs Crvena Zvezda, spoils party in Belgrade
Already-eliminated Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul spoiled the party in the Serbian capital, using a huge second-half run to defeat playoff hopeful Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade 61-80 on Thursday night in Kombank Arena. While Darussafaka improved to 4-9 in Top 16 Group E, Zvezda dropped to 7-6 and missed a chance to clinch its first-ever playoff berth. The hosts had an early lead as Nemanja Dangubic hit from downtown, but Darussafaka came back from a slim deficit to take 34-35 halftime lead. Led by Jamon Gordon, Scottie Wilbekin and Milko Bjelica during a nine-minute span in the third and fourth quarters, Darussafaka put together a 4-23 run to go up 52-66 with 4:41 to play and never looked back. Wilbekin led the winners with 19 points and 5 assists, Gordon had 14 points and 6 assists and 4 steals, while Bjelica finished with 13 points and 6 rebounds for Darussafaka. Quincy Miller collected 18 points plus 7 rebounds, and Dangubic netted 14 in the losing effort for Zvezda. The Serbian champs can still qualify for the playoffs with a win next week on the road against Cedevita Zagreb, or with an Anadolu Efes Istanbul loss in one of its two remaining games.
First quarter: Miller and Zirbes put Zvezda in front
Miller made a corner three and a driving reverse layup in traffic to give the hosts a 5-0 lead to start the game. Gordon opened the visitor's account with a jumper, before Dangubic and Wilbekin traded three-pointers to make it 8-5. Miller spun through traffic to score inside, but Gordon hit a pair of triples, one in transition and the other off the glass to give Darussafaka a 10-11 lead. After a 17-minute delay due to a shot-clock malfunction caused by a Maik Zirbes dunk attempt, the same player made a pair of free throws and a huge dunk to restore a Zvezda lead, 14-11. Semih Erden scored inside, and after Dangubic drove to the hoop, Erden had a dunk, too. But Zirbes scored from close range again, and Miller had a fastbreak dunk to make it 20-15 after 10 minutes of play.
Second quarter: The visitors take slim halftime lead
Wilbekin fed Bjelica with bounce pass for a layup, then scored a put-back on a fast break himself to cut the deficit to 20-19. Branko Lazic scored a quick layup off an inbound-pass, but Ender Arslan answered with a high-arching finger roll. Free throws and a fastbreak basket from Vasilije Micic opened a 26-21 advantage. Manuchar Markoishvili knocked down a three-pointer for the visitors, but Vladimir Stimac had a layup to keep Zvezda in front. After a timeout, neither team scored for almost three minutes before Bjelica made a pair of free throws for the visitors. A tip-in from Furkan Aldemir cut the Darussafaka deficit and after Tarance Kinsey buried a long jumper, Aldemir drove the open lane for a layup to tie things at 31-31. In the last 90 seconds of the quarter, Dangubic put Zvezda back in front with a three-point play, but Aldemir’s foul shots and Bjelica’s driving layup gave Darussafaka a 34-35 edge.
Third quarter: A 1-12 run puts Darussafaka in control
Marko Guduric drove for a layup to start the second half, but Erden dunked over Zirbes, and Wilbekin’s three-point play made it 36-40. Dangubic answered with a triple, and Miller hit one, too, putting Zvezda back in front 42-40 as the hosts held Darussafaka without a basket for almost four minutes. Wilbekin buried a corner three to tie the game at 43-43 midway through the third. Miller drove for a dunk, and Dangubic made a wide-open corner three to give Zvezda a 5-point lead and force a Darussafaka timeout. Marcus Slaughter scored inside for the visitors, and Wilbekin nailed a three to tie the game again. Gordon’s layup-plus-foul on a fast break gave Darussafaka a 48-51 lead and prompted a Zvezda timeout. Wilbekin’s fastbreak layup and a basket inside by Bjelica in the final second of the third quarter opened 49-55 lead.
Fourth quarter: Darussafaka pulls away to a big win
Markoishvili opened the quarter with a long jumper and Reggie Redding picked up a steal and went for a fast break layup on the other end to open a 10-point lead. Guduric hit a triple, but Redding answered with a jumper to keep the hosts at bay. Bjelica drove for a layup to make it the biggest lead of the night at that point, 52-63, with six minutes to go. Darussafaka held the hosts to a single field goal for more than nine minutes, and Slaughter’s three-point play opened a 14-point gap. Guduric snapped the hosts’ drought, but Redding and Bjelica made easy layups, and Wilbekin hit a corner three-pointer to make it 56-73. With the game out of control for the hosts with two minutes remaining, Miller had a dunk, but Wilbekin fed Slaughter for an alley-oop layup. Before the game’s end, Redding knocked down a three-pointer, and after Micic scored for Zvezda, Wilbekin and Slaughter combined for an alley-oop dunk to round out the scoring.
Thursday, March 31, 2016