Panathinaikos starts strong in Malaga, cruises to fifth straight win
Panathinaikos Athens recorded its fifth consecutive win in Group E by downing Unicaja Malaga 58-76 on the road on Thursday. Panathinaikos improved to 6-3 while Unicaja dropped to 2-7. Elliot Williams paced the winners with 16 points, Miroslav Raduljica added 12 while James Gist and Nick Calathes each had 10 for Panathinaikos. Calathes added 10 assists for a double-double. Mindaugas Kuzminskas led Unicaja with 15 points and Edwin Jackson added 13 for the hosts. Panathinaikos opened the game with great defense and used a 2-18 run, which Calathes capped with a fast break layup to get a 4-20 lead. Three-pointers by Antonis Fotsis and MarQuez Haynes boosted the Greens' margin to 7-26 after 10 minutes. Kuzminskas singlehandedly brought Unciaja within 21-32, but Williams and Calathes stepped up for Panathinaikos and gave their team a 27-42 margin at halftime. Nothing changed after the break, as Panathinaikos boosted its margin to 46-64 after three quarters and cruised to a well-deserved win.
First quarter: Great defense puts Greens in charge
Both teams struggled to score early until Williams stepped up for Panathinaikos with a reverse layup. Fran Vazquez got Unicaja going with an alley-oop dunk, which Ognjen Kuzmic erased with a put-back slam. Calathes followed a driving layup with a mid-range jumper to boost the Greens' lead to 2-8. Vazquez banked in a close shot, but Sasha Pavlovic copied him at the other end and added a fast break slam to put Panathinaikos ahead 4-12. Unicaja called timeout, but free throws by Kuzmic made it a double-digit game. Raduljica banked in a jump hook and followed that with a layup, as Unicaja kept struggling to score. A fast break layup by Nick Calathes made it a 16-point game. Kuzminskas struck from downtown, but Antonis Fotsis also hit one from beyond the arc. Haynes joined the three-point shootout to give the Greens a 7-26 margin after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Unicaja tries, but Panathinaikos keeps safe lead
Jackson nailed a triple early in the quarter and free throws by Kuzminskas gave Unicaja hope at 12-26. Raduljica scored around the basket, but Kuzminskas shined with a big basket off a spin move. Dimitris Diamantidis added a driving layup, which Carlos Suarez matched with free throws to make it 16-30. Nelson and Pavlovic exchanged power layups and a three-pointer by Kuzminskas brought Unicaja even closer at 21-32. Williams swished a five-meter jumper and added an off-balance basket. Suarez hit foul shots and Jackson added a catch-and-shoot jumper that brought the hosts within 11. After Diamantidis found Calathes for a backdoor layup, Kuzminskas and James Gist exchanged baskets and an acrobatic jumper by Haynes boosted his team's lead to 27-42 at the break.
Third quarter: Williams, Calathes give Panathinaikos full control
Calathes nailed a one-handed jumper in the lane soon after the break, which Gist followed with a layup to break the game open at 27-46 soon after the break. Williams shocked the crowd with a two-handed dunk and Raduljica added his own slam to make it a 23-point game, capping a 0-12 run. Nelson tried to change things with a three-pointer and Kuzminskas also struck from downtown to bring Unicaja within 33-50. After Pavlovic joined the three-point shootout, Jack Cooley and Gist exchanged free throws. Jackson brought the hosts a bit closer, 38-55. Diamantidis struck from downtown and a huge dunk by Gist boosted the Greens' lead to 38-60. Richard Hendrix split free throws and added a layup, but Raduljica kept Panathinaikos way ahead, 41-62. Jackson shined with a fast break layup and bettered Williams's free throws with a bomb from downtown to make it 46-64.
Fourth quarter: Greens seal big road win
Williams shined with a driving layup early in the quarter. Dani Diez split free throws, but Williams took over with another big slam, good for a 47-68 Panathinaikos advantage. Nelson scored in penetration, but didn't find much help. Raduljica shined with a jump hook in the paint that practically sealed the outcome at 49-70 with six minutes left. Cooley scored down low and matched Williams's power layup with a tip-in. Diez buried a three-pointer, but everything was said and done already; Panathinaikos kept its winning streak going and returned home with a valuable road win.
Thursday, March 3, 2016