Marjanovic lifts Zvezda past Panathinaikos in a thriller
Playing in their last Euroleague game of the season, Boban Marjanovic made game-winning free throws with 2.2 seconds to go and Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade rallied late to a thrilling 69-68 win over playoff-bound Panathinaikos Athens in Hala Pionir on Thursday night. Panathinaikos learned before the start of the fourth quarter it had qualified for the playoffs with Maccabi’s win in Berlin. The Greek champs finished fourth in Group E with a 7-7 record and will face CSKA Moscow in the best-of-five playoffs next week, while Zvezda finished its Top 16 campaign with a 4-10 record and seventh place in the group. Zvezda kept the visitors without a field goal in the final seven minutes of the first quarter to build a 16-7 lead behind Marcus Williams and Marjanovic. The lead reached double figures in the second. However, Nikos Pappas got the Greens going and led them to cut the margin to 30-26 at halftime, before Vlantimir Giankovits and Dimitris Diamantidis hit from downtown in the third quarter for Panathinaikos to regain the lead. The Greens went on to build a 50-58 lead, but Zvezda rallied. The lead changed hands twice in the final minute before Marjanovic won it. He finished with a double-double, his record-breaking sixteenth of the season, amassing 12 points and 16 rebounds. Big man broke two more single-season records along the way, setting a mark for most rebounds in a season with 256, and the greatest accumulated performance index rating with 616 this season. Nikola Kalinic scored 14 for Zvezda, while Jaka Blazic, Luka Mitrovic and Williams each netted 11 in victory. Esteban Batista scored 15 for Panathinaikos, Diamantidis had 12, and Pappas 11 in defeat.
First quarter: Zvezda pulls away from the get go
Batista went around Marjanovic to open the scoring with a layup. The hosts countered with free throws from Marjanovic and a triple from Williams to make it 5-2. Diamantidis nailed a jumper, but Marjanovic assisted Williams for a layup, before Williams fed Mitrovic with a thread-the-needle pass for a dunk and a 9-4 lead. Following a timeout, Loukas Mavrokefalidis and Marjanovic traded foul shots, before Williams sank a three-pointer and Kalinic muscled his way inside to bank in a shot for 16-7 Zvezda lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Pappas gets Panathinaikos back in it
A put-back from Mitrovic gave Zvezda a double-digit lead, before Pappas scored a fastbreak layup to end an eight-minute scoring drought from the field for the visitors. Diamantidis followed it with a triple to get within 18-12, but Maik Zirbes had a put-back slam for Zvezda, and Nemanja Dangubic buried a triple. Panathinaikos answered through Batista inside, and Pappas twice drove for layups that made it 24-18. Panathinaikos held the hosts without a basket for almost four minutes before Charles Jenkins scored a fastbreak layup. Giankovits countered with a triple, and Papas fed Batista for an easy one-handed slam, 26-23. After a timeout, however, Marjanovic rocked the rim with a dunk, before feeding Mitrovic for a dunk and a 7-point margin. However, Antonis Fotsis nailed a corner triple to keep the Greens close, 30-26 at halftime.
Third quarter: Giankovits fuels the Greens to slim lead
Batista had an easy dunk on a fast break, and Giankovits nailed a triple to put Panathinaikos in front, 30-31. But corner triples from Jaka Blazic and Williams restored Zvezda’s lead, and Marjanovic scored inside to make it 38-31. Diamantidis assisted Batista for a dunk, then the veteran point guard hit one from long range. Blazic buried a jumper and Kalinic had a layup to make it 42-36, but a triple from Giankovits and a pair of foul shots from Batista got the Greens within a single point. Marjanovic scored a layup, but Diamantidis made a couple free throws and a basket from Mavrokefalidis gave the Greens 44-45 at the end of the quarter.
Fourth quarter: Zvezda rallies and Marjanovic wins it
DeMarcus Nelson muscled his way inside, opening the quarter with a basket-plus-foul, then stole the ball and raced for another three-point play. After a timeout, Mitrovic nailed a triple, and after a basket from Mavrokefalidis, Kalinic had a layup-plus-foul to make it 50-53. Pappas drove for a layup, and Fotsis hit a triple to extend it to 50-58. After a Zvezda timeout, Kalinic scored inside, and after a reverse a layup from Batista, a triple by Blazic cut it to 55-60. Nelson and Mitrovic traded baskets from close range, but in the next couple of minutes, Kalinic made 5 of 6 from the line, getting Zvezda within 62-63 with 1:40 left to play. Diamantidis made a pair of free throws and Panathinaikos had possession, but Zvezda made a defensive stand that led to a fastbreak finished with a Blazic burying a triple while drawing a foul. With the score at 65-65, Blazic missed the free throw, but Kalinic secured an offensive rebound and Jenkins scored free throws with 36.6 remaining for a 67-65 lead. After a timeout, Pappas sank a three-pointer for a 67-68 advantage with 20.3 seconds to play. On the ensuing possession, the ball went into hands of Williams who missed a triple, but Marjanovic had an offensive rebound and drew a foul with 2.2 to go. He made both foul shots to put Zvezda in front again, and win it as the hosts did not allow Panathinaikos a look at the basket in the remaining time.
Thursday, April 9, 2015