ASVEL, down 19, stuns Efes with 75-73 comeback win
Rallying from a 19-point second-half deficit, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne stayed unbeaten and tied for first place when it stopped visiting Anadolu Efes Istanbul with a thrilling 75-73 decision on Tuesday behind 16 points from Chris Jones. ASVEL is 3-0 for the first time in its seven EuroLeague seasons this century and tied for first place. Defending champion Efes fell to 0-3. Efes led 37-56 midway through the third quarter before ASVEL reeled it back, little by little, until taking its first lead, 71-70, with just under 2 minutes left. Efes tied it after that, but Kostas Antetokounmpo's put-back with 12 seconds remaining decided the outcome. William Howard followed Jones with 13 points for ASVEL. Paul Lacombe added 11 while Dylan Osetkowski and Antetokounmpo had 10 each. Elie Okobo dished 10 assists for ASVEL. Efes got 24 points from Vasilije Micic, 15 from Shane Larkin and 13 from Rodrigue Beaubois, but suffered from 11 turnovers and 3-for-14 three-point shooting after halftime.
Okobo's high-banked layup opened the scoring but Micic did him one better with a three-point play. James Gist's hook shot was answered by Rodrigue Beaubois landing the game's first triple at 4-6. Dylan Osetkowski and Tibor Pleiss scored in close before Micic hit from deep and Okobo fed Jones to make it 10-11. Micic with 5 points and Tolga Gecim quickly upped the Efes lead to 10-18. Jones scored twice to restart ASVEL, but Chris Singleton's three-pointer kept Efes ahead and Beaubois made it double digits at 15-25. Okobo hit ASVEL's first triple as the first quarter ended 20-25.
Larkin buried back-to-back threes and Adrien Moerman added a put-back at 20-33 early in the second quarter. Paul Lacombe seemed to end the bleeding for ASVEL, but Micic and Moerman took Efes up to 23-37. Osetkowski's pair of triples kept ASVEL within 31-42 and soon the hosts got big dunks from William Howard and Kostas Antetokounmpo. Still, Efes kept scoring as Micic downed 3 free throws, Larkin hit a jumper and Beaubois finished break before the buzzer to keep the visitors in charge at 35-49.
Larkin fed Pleiss twice for a new high lead of 37-56 early in the second half. ASVEL struggled to get shots off until Gist dropped a baseline jumper. But it took Jones beating the shot clock from the corner for ASVEL to stay within 40-56. As the hosts' defense slowed Efes for the first time all night, Lacombe downed 4 points in a row to cut the difference to 47-58. Howard made it 51-61 at the free throw line and Matthew Strazel got it to single-digits with another assist to Antetokounmpo before the third quarter ended 53-62.
Strazel, Lacombe and Antetokounmpo kept it going with a pair of dunks from the latter to open the fourth quarter at 57-62. Micic calmed Efes from the elbow but Lacombe matched him. Beaubois drilled a corner triple at 59-67 but after free throws by Howard, Jones stuck his own shot from downtown to make it 64-67. Suddenly, it was Howard drilling his own second-chance three-pointer for a 67-67 tie with under 5 minutes left. Both teams went cold for 2 minutes before Micic hit a triple that Jones answered with a layup at 69-70. Howard then finished what seemed a broken play with a banked one-hander over Pleiss for ASVEL'S first lead of the game, 71-70, with 1:56 to play. When Okobo added a dunk off a steal, Efes used a timeout to call Micic's number for a game-tying triple. But his next one missed in the final minute and Antetokounmpo put back an ASVEL miss with 12 seconds left for the winning points. Larkin tried a final triple to take the win back to Istanbul, but it clanged off the front of the rim and set off celebrations in the Astroballe!
Quartet sparks ASVEL's miracle comeback
Anadolu Efes Istanbul led 37-56 on the road Tuesday when LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne called a timeout with 16 minutes left. A minute later, Paul Lacombe and Kostas Antetokounmpo entered the game, and shortly after, Matthew Strazel and William Howard joined them. They had 8 points between them before that. By joining to turn defense into offense, however, they revived ASVEL little by little.
Strazel did the dishing, Lacombe outhustled his opponents, Antetokounmpo took back the basket area and Howard showed great versatility. They would finish the game, barely 15 minutes later, with a combined 36 points, 8 rebounds, 6 assists and 4 steals, most of which helped slowly erased the 19-point lead of the defending champions. In the end, Howard's three-pointer gave ASVEL its first tie of the game, 67-67, and his bank shot supplied the hosts' first lead, 71-70, with under 2 minutes left. Antetokounmpo took the game-winning honors with a put-back 12 seconds from the buzzer. Together, they stunned Efes and left ASVEL with its hottest start ever in the EuroLeague.
ASVEL's Okobe shows his versatility
He couldn't make but 3 of his 10 field goal tries, committed 6 turnovers and didn't get to the free throw line at all, but when the dust settled, Elie Okobo had the highest performance index rating, 17, for the winners from ASVEL. That's because Okobo saw his way to dish 10 assists, pull 6 rebounds and make 4 steals. His assist total tied for ASVEL's second-highest since 2002 and his steals for the team's third-most in more than a decade.
Standout stats: Guards fuels ASVEL's rebounding resurgence
Efes had lost its first two games by losing the battle on the boards by an average of 15 rebounds. At halftime on Tuesday, the champs seemed to have solved that problem, leading ASVEL 6-14 in total rebounds while not allowing the hosts a single one on the offensive glass. In the second half, ASVEL turned the tables, winning the rebounds by 20-18 and the offensive glass 5-4. Interestingly, the backcourt tandem of Elie Okobo and Chris Jones had 9 of those second-half boards and led their team with 6 each, more than any Efes player except 2.21-meter Tibor Pleiss. For the record, Okobo is the taller of ASVEL's rebounding duo and he's 30 centimeters shorter than Pleiss at 1.91.
Tuesday, October 12, 2021