Rudy leads Real Madrid to victory at Zalgiris
Real Madrid maintained at least a share of first place in Group E at the midway point in the Top 16 after a valuable 71-88 road win at Zalgiris Kaunas. Rudy Fernandez hit 3 third-quarter three-pointers to help Los Blanco pull away and improve to 6-1. The result dropped Zalgiris to 2-5. The Lithuanian champs led by 6 late in the second quarter before Madrid came back to tie it 47-47 at halftime. Madrid only allowed 24 second-half points – after Zalgiris had scored that many in just the second quarter – to claim the win. Rudy finished with 17 points, while Felipe Reyes added 16 and Andres Nocioni 15. Robertas Javtokas led Zalgiris with 12 points and Arturas Milaknis scored 11. In an on-court pre-game ceremony, Zalgiris assistant coach Sarunas Jasikevicius was honored as a Euroleague Legend.
First quarter: Reyes dominates to give Madrid narrow edge
The offenses shined early. Reyes fed Ayon for the first points before Paulius Jankunas got Zalgiris on the scoreboard. James Anderson drove for a layup in transition, but Rudy buried a jumper at the other end. Milaknis and Reyes traded threes. Jankunas put the hosts ahead 9-7, but Sergio Llull nailed an open three at the top of the key. Ayon was fouled away from the ball on the shot, which earned Los Blancos as extra possession. Reyes scored twice more inside to lead 9-14. Jankunas buried a three, but Rudy hit another jumper. Jankunas committed his third foul midway through the quarter and took a seat. Reyes reached 9 individual points as Madrid went up by 6. Zalgiris fought hard on the offensive glass, which resulted in an Arturas Gudaitis slam. Milaknis added another triple and then a long two-pointer to put Zalgiris up 19-18. Reyes hit free throws and finished a break with a slam. Darius Songaila and Ioannis Bourousis each scored in the paint before Lukas Lekavicius burst through the paint for a layup via basket interference to make it 23-24.
Second quarter: Zalgiris pulls ahead, but Madrid half strong
The big men traded buckets with Bourousis scoring twice and Songaila and Javtokas answering. Nocioni stepped out for a three-pointer and a 27-31 Madrid lead. Songaila scored the next 5 points to move in front. Jaycee Carroll connected on a four-point play, but Anderson wowed the crowd with a reverse layup. Will Cherry knocked down a three from the corner for a 37-35 lead. Jonas Maciulis’s put back drew Madrid within 1. Javtokas added free throws only to see Maciulis sink a three that evened the score at 40-40 midway through the quarter. Gudaitis starred with a layup on one end and a block on the other. After a handful of turnovers and missed shots at both ends, Siim-Sander Vene nailed a three. Reyes and Gudaitis each split free throws. Llull found Slaughter for an alley-oop slam and Rudy made a jumper before Slaughter came up with a steal and finished the half with a slam that tied the game at 47-47.
Third quarter: Rudy takes control for the visitors
Ayon scored inside for Madrid on the first play of the second half. Then K.C. Rivers nailed a three after which Zalgiris coach Krapikas called for a timeout. Lekavicius drilled a three from the corner, but Ayon came through with a tip-in. Jankunas scored 2 free throws, but Rudy hit from downtown. Milaknis answered with a triple, but Rudy matched him. Reyes hit a jumper from the elbow to make it 55-62. Javtokas rose high for a powerful two-handed slam. Rudy made his third three of the quarter and then took a steal in for a drawn foul, 2 foul shots and a 57-67 lead. Rivers drove to put Madrid up by 12. Edgaras Ulanovas converted a three-point play only to see Nocioni drain a three from the corner for a 60-72 difference.
Fourth quarter: Madrid defense puts the game away
Will Cherry attacked the basket for a three-point play, but Nocioni nailed a three from the same corner. Jankunas was called for an offensive foul. Nocioni scored another two baskets for a 63-79 Madrid lead. Cherry hit a triple, but the Zalgiris offense stalled. Nocioni scored from the baseline, but both teams had trouble generating points for several minutes. Javtokas’s hook shot ended a four-and-a-half-minute scoreless streak for the hosts, but it was too little, too late. Sergio Rodriguez scored twice to make it 68-86 with a minute to go and Madrid cashed in another important road win.
Thursday, February 12, 2015