Real Madrid got took a necessary step toward its goal of reaching the Top 16 by beating Partizan Pivara MB 82-68 at home in Group A on Wednesday. Madrid improved to 6-4 in the standings and remains tied with Cibona VIP for the third place in the group. Partizan, meanwhile, dropped to 2-8 to end a tough couple days in which its flight to Madrid was delayed so long for weather problems that the visitors arrived only a few hours before tipoff. Alberto Herreros led the winners with 18 points on 4-for-5 three-point shooting, most of them in the first half, when Madrid broke the game open. Elmer Bennett added 16 points and hit 4 of 6 three-pointers himself, while Axel Hervelle had 11 for Madrid. Vule Avdalovic had 19 points and 5 assists for Partizan. Blake Stepp added 16 points and Slobodan Bozovic 12 for the guests.
Fotsis got loose for a layup and a dunk inside during the 2 minutes after tipoff in which Partizan could not get on the scoreboard. Even then, only 4 free throws by Avdalovic fell for the guests before Herreros threw in a triple for Madrid and the free throw that came with it, a four-point play good for a 10-4 lead. Stepp answered at the arc for Partizan, however, and when Avdalovic added a jumper and Petar Bozic a layup, the guests had an 11-11 tie. Herreros was the only Madrid player to score during 5 minutes in the middle of the quarter, but score he certainly did, blasting 2 more triples and 3 free throws to singlehandedly keep Madrid ahead 19-13 before Fotsis sent the hosts out of the first quarter with his third basket and a 21-14 lead.
An exchange of baskets early in the second quarter did nothing to change Madrid's control. Indeed, when Elmer Bennett answered a triple by Uros Tripkovic with one of his own, the hosts were on their way to first double-digit lead, 29-19. Madrid was barely interrupted by Kosta Perovic's basket for Partizan in the middle of the quarter as Bennett and Antonio Bueno followed with 7 unanswered points for a 15-point lead, 36-21. By the time Axel Hervelle and Louis Bullock got involved with a triple and a driving layup, respectively, Madrid was up to a 16-4 run and a 41-23 lead, on the way to a 45-27 advantage at the end of the half.
Partizan tried to get back into the game after halftime, as Bozovic scored in the paint and Avdalovic followed with a triple that made it 45-32. Madrid struggled to score now, while Bozovic fired in a bomb from downtown to make it a 11-point game at 46-35. Felipe Reyes got Madrid back on track with a four-meter shot, while Herreros added a running jumper for a 50-35 lead. Partizan refused to break, however, as free throws by Tripkovic and a big three-pointer by Avdalovic brought the difference down to 51-41. Madrid looked for its big men now, and after Reyes and Hervelle hit 4 of 4 free throws, Herreros fired in his fourth three-pointer to help keep the hosts fully in charge at 61-47 after 30 minutes.
Madrid tried to seal the outcome early in the final period, as Bullock followed Gelabale's put-back basket with his first three-pointer, good enough for a 66-49 lead. Stepp fed Bozovic for an easy basket, but Hervelle matched that with a five-meter jumper. The guests now struggled to score, and when back-to-back jumpers by Bullock and Hervelle fell, the score read 72-51 with 5 minutes to go, but the outcome was sealed, even though Partizan got the next 6 points. The visitors would get as close as 72-60 later when Stepp scored from beyond the arc, but a layup by a very active Hervelle and free throws by Bueno secured Madrid's double-digit margin until the final buzzer.
Wednesday, January 12, 2005