Anadolu Efes outlasts Olympiacos to take 2-1 series lead
Anadolu Efes Istanbul outlasted Olympiacos Piraeus 64-60 on Wednesday at Abdi Ipekci Arena to take a 2-1 lead in the teams’ best-of-five playoff series. Efes hosts Game 4 on Friday knowing a win will send it to the 2017 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four at nearby Sinan Erdem Dome in the Turkish metropolis. Efes led by as many as 17 in the third quarter, but EuroLeague legend Vassilis Spanoulis erupted late with 3 three-pointers to bring the Reds within 61-60. Free throws by Thomas Heurtel and Tyler Honeycutt helped Efes hold on and get in position to reach its first Final Four in a decade and a half. Bryant Dunston led the winners with 16 points and 9 rebounds, Heurtel tallied 13 points and 6 assists, Derrick Brown scored 12, Jayson Granger 11 and Honeycutt chipped in everywhere with 6 points, 7 boards and 4 steals. Efes struggled with its outside shooting and made just 2 of 18 three-pointers (11.1%) as well as only half of its 16 free throws, but committed just 4 turnovers to make up that gap. Spanoulis recorded 9 points and 3 assists in the final six minutes to lead the comeback and finished with 15 points, 7 assists and 3 steals, but also committed 7 of his team’s 17 turnovers.
Granger opened the scoring for the hosts, but Khem Birch made an early impact with hustle plays on defense. Three and a half minutes passed before Olympiacos scored a basket, but Vangelis Mantzaris’s triple closed the gap to 8-6 at the first timeout. And Kostas Papanikolaou soon tied it at 9-9 with a catch-and-shoot three from the wing. Brown’s third jumper put the hosts back in front, however Spanoulis’s first basket was followed by Georgios Printezis free throws to give the visitors their first lead, 11-13. The lead went back and forth before Printezis added 2 more from the line for a 14-17 lead after 10
minutes. Efes players combined to miss 4 free throws in the first two minutes of the second quarter and Olympiacos went ahead 15-20 when Erick Green split free throws. Efes kept it close and went back in front on Dunston’s put-back basket-plus-foul that made it 27-25. The hosts took charge in the closing minutes of the half with dunks by Brown and Dunston to lead 33-27 at the break.
Dunston kept the Efes momentum going with a pair of buckets sandwiched around a block to start the second half and give Efes a double-digit margin. Brown capped a fast break with a fantastic slam that capped an 8-0 run to start the half – and a 14-0 Efes run spanning the two halves to lead 41-27. Olympiacos got its first basket of the second half on a Papanikolaou triple, but the lead continued to swell and reached 17 on a Brown jumper. Green and Patric Young narrowed the gap to 51-37 at the end of the quarter. A three by Mantzaris gave the visitors hope, however Dunston scored inside to keep Efes cruising. Brown and Papanikolaou were assessed unsportsmanlike fouls after some shoving. The Reds did not quit and 5 quick points from Ioannis Papapetrou drew the visitors within 53-45. When Papapetrou missed, Printezis tipped in the miss and then scored on the break to make it a 4-point game. Efes regained its composure through a Dunston dunk and Granger free throws that made it 57-49, but Spanoulis nailed a three-pointer and whipped a pass inside to Birch for a dunk and foul that brought the Reds within 3. Spanoulis continued to betted the Efes attack with three-pointers to get within 61-60 with 30 second left. Heurtel made it a 3-point game with free throws with 16.1 seconds on the clock. And after Spanoulis missed his next tough shot, Honeycutt iced the game from the line.
Wednesday, April 26, 2017