Mirotic, Fernandez lead Madrid to eighth Top 16 win
Real Madrid improved to 8-1 in Top 16 Group F and got closer to locking up a playoffs spot by downing Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul 74-85 on the road on Friday. Madrid is tied with CSKA Moscow for first place in Group F and will lock up a playoffs spot with a win against FC Bayern Munich next week. Galatasaray dropped to 3-6 and faces two decisive games against Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar and Bayern in the next couple of weeks. Nikola Mirotic led the winners with 18 points. Rudy Fernandez added 14 while Sergio Rodriguez and Ioannis Bourousis each had 13 for Madrid. Zoran Erceg led Galatasaray with 18 points. Carlos Arroyo added 16 while Milan Macvan had 11 for the hosts. Fernandez had all the points in a 0-7 opening run, but Galatasaray improved its defense and a wild slam by Pops Mensah-Bonsu brought the hosts within 16-18 late in the first quarter. A three-pointer by Henry Domercant brought Galatasaray even closer, 26-27, soon after that. Rodriguez and Dani Diez stepped up to keep Madrid ahead, 38-43, at halftime. Mirotic took over after the break, scoring 11 third-quarter points and getting help from Sergio Llull and Fernandez to give Los Blancos a 52-61 after 30 minutes. Nothing changed in the fourth quarter, as Madrid kept a safe margin all the way until the final buzzer.
First quarter: Mirotic, Fernandez give Madrid an early lead
Fernandez got Madrid going with a three-pointer and soon added a fast break dunk for a 0-5 lead. Galatasaray was held scoreless in the opening three minutes and a layup by an unstoppable Fernandez capped a 0-7 run. Erceg made free throws that Tremmell Darden matched with a slam. Domercant nailed a step-back jumper off the dribble and a jump hook by Erceg brought Galatasaray within 6-9. Mirotic grabbed a loose ball to put it in, before Ender Arslan hit foul shots. A layup by Ioannis Bourousis boosted the guests' lead to 8-13. After Macvan scored down low, Llull and Arslan quickly exchanged layups for a 12-15 Madrid edge. Macvan scored again, but Mirotic struck from downtown. A wild dunk by Mensah-Bonsu ignited the crowd at 16-18. Mirotic kept pushing Madrid with a layup that gave his team a 16-20 edge after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Rodriguez keeps Los Blancos ahead
Rodriguez sank a one-handed floater in the lane early in the second quarter, as Madrid tried Llull and Diez at the wings. Bourousis buried a three-pointer that gave Madrid a 16-25 margin. Sinan Guler answered from downtown and Macvan scored down low to get the crowd involved at 21-25. Bourousis and Arroyo traded jumpers and a three-pointer by Domercant forced Madrid to stop the game at 26-27. Rodriguez buried a triple, as Coach Ergin Ataman tried Huseyn Koksal to guard him. Diez scored around the basket and a layup by Felipe Reyes restored a 26-34 Madrid lead. Arroyo kept pushing Galatasaray with a five-meter jumper that Rodriguez bettered with a big triple from way downtown. Erceg downed one from beyond the arc and Malik Hairston’s dunk kept the hosts within 33-37. After Reyes split foul shots, Arroyo shined with a three-point play. Diez erased that with a corner triple. Arroyo answered from downtown. A layup by Marcus Slaughter fixed the halftime score at 38-43.
Third quarter: Mirotic takes over, Madrid extends its margin
Mirotic swished a turnaround jumper immediately after the break. Erceg answered with a baseline jumper and added a three-pointer that brought Galatasaray as close as 43-45. Llull beat the shot clock with a big triple and Bourousis added a six-meter jumper to give Madrid some fresh air at 43-50. Galatasaray called timeout, but kept struggling to score. Meanwhile, a corner three-pointer by Mirotic gave Madrid its first double-digit lead, 43-53, after a 0-8 run. Arroyo stepped up with a mid-range jumper that a red-hot Mirotic erased with an acrobatic fast break layup. Erceg fired in another three-pointer. Fernandez and Domercant traded free throws to make it 50-57. Galatasaray did not find answers on offense without Arroyo on court. Mirotic nailed another corner triple and split free throws before Domercant downed a five-meter jumper that kept Galatasaray within 52-61.
Fourth quarter: Madrid adds valuable road win
Bourousis punished the hosts' matchup zone defense with a close jumper early in the quarter. Macvan fired in a three-pointer, but Darden dunked off a midcourt steal and Llull slammed in transition to boost the guests' lead to 55-67 with eight minutes left. After Darden buried one from downtown, Macvan scored in penetration and a dunk by Furkan Aldemir gave Galatasaray hope at 59-70. Bourousis split free throws and a jumper by Cenk Akyol brought the hosts within 61-71. Rodriguez made 1 from the foul line and found Fernandez for a three-pointer and a 61-75 Madrid lead with over four minutes to go. Arroyo hit 3 free throws and added a jumper to get Galatasaray within single digits, 66-75. Bourousis and Reyes split free throws and even though Akyol struck from downtown, it was too little, too late for the hosts. Reyes and a wild alley-oop jam by Fernandez allowed Madrid to seal another road win in style.
Friday, March 7, 2014