After almost three quarters of playing with fire, Real Madrid burst out for a mega-run that led to a deceptively easy-looking 85-68 victory over visiting Partizan in Group C on Wednesday. Madrid had trailed most of the game before a 24-1 blast started late in the third quarter changed everything. Madrid's record improved to 6-4 and it now shares third place with CSKA Moscow, a loser on the road to Unicaja on Wednesday. Partizan fell to 2-8 and fewer chances of surviving to make the Top 16. Igor Rakocevic came off the bench to lead Madrid with 23 points, most of those after halftime. Axel Hervelle added 15 points for the winners, Louis Bullock 12, Felipe Reyes and Mickael Gelabale 10 each. Partizan got 14 points from Uros Tripkovic, 13 from Kosta Perovic and 10 plus 11 rebounds from Dejan Milojevic. Partizan lived on three-pointers to stake first half leads as high as 12 points, but with its rally at the end, Madrid eventually evened the guests from downtown with 10 triples each.
Predgrag Suput got the guests going on the right foot with a triple in the opening minute, but soon Venson Hamilton was dunking to tie for Madrid, 3-3. Partizan worked inside to Perovic for a pair of baskets before Milojevic set up outside for his own three-point shot. By the time Perovic dunked for his third basket, Partizan had not only a 7-14 lead in 6 minutes but a whole lot of confidence. That momentum continued with two new players burying triples, Tripkovic and Petar Bozic, as the lead grew to 10-20. Perovic finished with a layup inside to give himself 8 points and Partizan a 12-22 advantage after 10 minutes.
After Luka Bogdanovic dunked to oen the second quarter, Madrid's response began with a shot from downtown by Axel Hervelle and a basket inside by Gelabale. By the time Rakocevic scored his first jumper, Madrid was within 21-25, but Tripkovic and Suput responded with a double shot from the arc to restore a double-digit lead of 21-31 midway through the quarter. A couple of scoreless minutes ended with Eduardo Hernandez-Sonseca, Gelabale and Rakocevic combining for 6 points that got the hosts back within 27-33. Milojevic erased half of that gain with a basket-plus-free throw but Hervelle struck again from the arc to match him. When Gelabale tossed in his own triple, it was 35-38, but Nicola Pekovic made free throws to keep Partizan in charge, 35-40, at the break.
Felipe Reyes got involved with 4 quick points in the third quarter that drew Madrid within a point before Hervelle tied 40-40 from the foul line. Bozic shot Partizan back ahead from downtown, but Rakocevic matched him, and soon Hervelle was making a layup and a triple to boost the hosts to a 48-43 advantage. Bogdanovic and Tripkovic answered strongly, with back-to-back bombs as Partizan's defense blanked Madrid during almost 4 minutes. With 4 points from Perovic and Pekovic in that span, Partizan was back up, 48-53. Bullock led an end-of-quarter charge with points of all kinds - a triple, a layup and free throws - but Rakocevic took the honors of putting Madrid in front, 60-58, after 30 minutes on a three-point basket-plus-free throw.
When Rakocevic then opened the final quarter with 3 more points from downtown, the momentum swung completely to Madrid. He was fouled on his next long-distance shot, made 3 free throws, then watched Bullock land a bomb from the arc. When Rakocevic's layup fell next, Madrid had an 18-0 run since late in the previous quarter and the scoreboard in control at 71-58. After a Partizan's first point of the quarter, a foul shot, Rakocevic continued with another three-pointer to which Hervelle added 3 points the hard way in the paint. That made it a 24-1 run and abundantly clear that Partizan's good showing for three quarters was not enough to stop the hosts on their own floor.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006