Champs protect home floor to set up Game 5 in Madrid
Two-time defending champion Olympiacos Piraeus protected its home court to beat Real Madrid 71-62 Wednesday at Peace and Friendship Stadium, tying their best-of-five playoffs series 2-2 and setting up a decisive Game 5 in the Spanish capital on Friday. With the game tied 49-49 early in the fourth quarter, Bryant Dunston scored 6 straight points to give the Reds the lead for good. Matt Lojeski later added a pair of clutch threes as Olympiacos pulled away for its seventh straight playoff home win. Dunston and Lojeski each scored 13 points to lead the winners. Dunson added 9 rebounds too. Vassilis Spanoulis tallied 12 points and 7 assists, while Georgios Printezis and Vangelos Mantzaris netted 10 points apiece. Mantzaris dished 6 assists too. Rudy Fernandez paced Madrid with 18 points and 8 rebounds and Tremmell Darden scored 10 in defeat.
First quarter: Reds keep pace with Madrid’s attack
Darden got the visitors on the scoreboard first before Mantzaris attacked the rim for a layup. Lojeski and Mantzaris gave the Reds an early 6-2 advantage. Back-to-back threes by Darden and Fernandez followed by Llull’s drive to Ioannis Bourousis for a slam made it 6-10. Bourousis blocked Spanoulis, but Dunston followed the play and dunked the ball in. Rudy kept Madrid ahead with a circus shot. Offensive fouls by Bourousis and Fernandez stalled Madrid, but Nikola Mirotic reacted with a basket-plus-foul. Lojeski excited the crowd with a three-pointer and Giorgi Shermadini free throws drew the hosts within 15-16 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Printezis, Papapetrou spark Olympiacos
Two minutes into the quarter, Printezis put Olympiacos on top with a three-pointer. Salah Mejri tied the game from the line, but after Felipe Reyes missed 2 free throws, the Reds got going. First Mardy Collins scored, then Dunston rejected Rodriguez from behind and Ioannis Papapetrou nailed a three to make it 23-18. Rudy netted 2 free throws, but Printezis countered with his second and Olympiacos’s third triple of the quarter. Papapetrou scored twice more, the second basket a fast break layup to make it 30-21. Printezis sank his famous one-hander to give the hosts the game’s first double-digit lead. Madrid rallied back through Reyes free throws, a Fernandez steal that led to a Marcus Slaughter slam and a Llull layup. Spanoulis kept Olympiacos cruising with a three before trading free throws with Slaughter. Fernandez split free throws to leave the scoreboard at 37-30 at halftime.
Third quarter: Rudy’s threes help Madrid rally back
Mirotic scored 3 points over two possessions to start the second half. Lojeski scored a much-needed basket for Olympiacos to keep its lead safe. After Darden free throws, Spanoulis penetrated and scored over Bourousis. Printezis boosted the Reds to 43-35. Rudy looked to revive Los Blancos with free throws and soon after a deep three to make it 44-40, but Spanoulis countered with a pull-up triple. Mirotic and Dunston got tangled and called for double fouls. Bourousis tipped in a Llull miss, then made a reverse layup before Fernandez knocked down a deep rainbow three to tie the score at 47-47. Mantzaris put Olympiacos ahead 49-47 with a pair of free throws in the closing seconds of the quarter.
Fourth quarter: Dunson anchors Reds late for series-tying win
Sergio Rodriguez confidently tied the score, but Dunston’s offensive rebound and reverse slam put the Reds back on top. Dunston drew two more fouls, made 2 more free throws and after went through Reyes for basket-plus-foul to make it 55-49. Reyes redeemed himself with free throws, but Cedric Simmons answered for Olympiacos. Lojeski drained a three after a timeout to put the Reds up 9. Darden tried to silence the arena with a three from the corner. After free throws by Fernandez, Madrid was within 60-56 with three and a half minutes remaining. Spanoulis made big plays at both ends, knocking a ball off Mirotic and out of bounds to get possession and then scoring a left-handed layup at the other end. After a timeout, Bourousis scored in the paint. Momentum seemed to go Marid’s way when Spanoulis missed twice from the charity stripe, but Dunston grabbed the rebound and scored before Lojeski drained a three to make it 67-58 with 1:29 to play, essentially wrapping up the win and forcing a Game 5 in the Spanish capital. Mirotic drew a foul shooting a three, but made only 2 free throws. Mantzaris split free throws twice on consecutive possessions before a Dunston slam capped a hard-fought Olympiacos win.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014