Panathinaikos finished the Euroleague Regular Season by taking over second place in Group C with a 62-88 road win at Pau-Orthez thanks to a perfect shooting performance by guard Jaka Lakovic on Wednesday. The victory gave Panathinaikos an 8-6 final record, tying it with Benetton Treviso. Panathinaikos won the tiebreak on point difference in their head-to-head games by 3 points to take second place. Panathinaikos used a 14-33 second quarter to pull away from Pau-Orthez for good on Wednesday. Pau-Orthez finished 3-11 and last in the group. Lakovic led the Greens with 21 points and didn't miss a shot. He made 4 of 4 two-pointers, 2 of 2 triples and 7 of 7 free throws. Mike Batiste added 11 points for the winners, while Fragiskos Alvertis, Kostas Tsartsaris and Lonny Baxter posted 10 apiece. For Pau, only Mire Chatman scored in double digits, reaching 11 points.
Davor Marcelic scored the first basket from 3 meters to get Pau started, but then defenses took over. Neither team managed to find the net during the next 2 minutes until Batiste scored for Panathinaikos to tie, 2-2. After that, both teams started finding easy points, as Batiste gave the visitors a lead, 4-6. Tsartsaris and Nikos Hatzivrettas took over now to give Panathinaikos an 8-14 cushion Thierry Rupert tried to stop the Greek avalanche, but the hosts had to call a timeout to regroup and find a solution to the offensive problems that had led to 4 turnovers already. Pau responded with a 7-0 run, including 4 points by Chatman and a triple by Souarata Cisse, to roar back and take a 15-14 lead. The score remained balanced until Tsartsaris scored to put Panathinaikos back in front, 17-18, to close the first quarter.
Panathinaikos found Batiste for 5 quick points in the paint, including a three-point play, to start the second quarter ahead 17-23. Vlado Scepanovic then blasted a bomb from downtown and a layup to give the Greens the first double-digit lead of the night, 17-28. Artur Drozdov stopped the bleeding for Pau with a basket-plus-free throw, but Lakovic soon buried his first points of the night to maintain a 20-30 lead. After an exchange of points, Alvertis came off the bench to push the Panathinaikos lead to 27-40. Free throws moved the scoreboard to 28-43, then Drozdov broke that trend, but Lakovic answered with 5 points that sent the Greens soaring ahead at 30-48. The lead reached the 20 points when Alvertis nailed a new three-pointer to close the first half, 31-51.
The second half started with 2 scoreless minutes ended by Giorgos Kalaitzis of Panathinaikos. Fred Fauthoux's triple sparked an 8-0 Pau run capped by Drozdov's three-point play, making the score 39-53. Alvertis dropped another bomb, and after the Panathinaikos defense forced Pau's 12th turnover, he scored again for 39-59. Ibrahim Kutluay reappeared for Panathinaikos off the bench to foul Chatman as he scored, but the guard missed the free throw that went with it. Those points were the last ones before a drought of 2 minutes that T.J. Lux ended with free throws for Pau. Lakovic took it personal and stepped up for 7 points before the quarter finished with Panathinaikos protecting a 52-67 score.
Marcelic scored in the first play of the last period and then, again, tough defenses took over. Baxter ended 3 empty minutes with a dunk that made it 54-69 for Panathinaikos. The visitors' shooting percentage was still over 60 percent, but Baxter was the only Green scoring now. Another dunk gave him 7 consecutive points and Panathinaikos a 56-74 edge. Hatzivrettas finally joined him with 4 points as the difference topped 20 points at 56-78. Lakovic sealed his great night with another triple in a scoring run that stretched to 4-16 when Tsartsaris slammed the ball with just a minute to go and the Greens looking ready for the Top 16.
Wednesday, February 9, 2005