Real Madrid remained undefeated by thrashing Partizan Igokea 75-64 on Wednesday night in the Spanish capital. Louis Bullock returned from injury to make 4 of 5 three-point attempts on the way to 15 points for the Spanish champs, who lead Group C at 4-0. Partizan dropped to 2-2. Although the final margin was 11 points, Madrid was in control from start to finish. The hosts opened up with a 15-4 start and never let up. The lead reached 62-42 early in the fourth quarter. At that point Madrid started to coast and Partizan took advantage to storm back to 66-61 with 69 seconds remaining. However Bullock stepped back with a four-point play to sink Partizan's hopes and seal the outcome. Alex Mumbru added 11 points and 9 rebounds, Raul Lopez scored 10 points and Felipe finished with 8 points and 11 rebounds for Madrid, whose big men made the difference by holding Partizan center Nikola Pekovic to just 6 points and 4 rebounds. Pekovic came into the game as the Euroleague's hottest player this season. Milt Palacio led Partizan with 24 points, Dusan Kecman added 14 and Novica Velickovic had 13.
Partizan won the opening tip, but Madrid scored the game's first points when Reyes fed Venson Hamilton for an alley-oop. Partizan went inside to Pekovic, but Madrid continued to attack with Kerem Tunceri hiting from outside and Bullock scoring his first points from the line. Velickovic hit back for Partizan in transition, but the hosts continued to control the game as Mumbru drilled a three-pointer and Lazaros Papadopoulos scored in the paint for a 12-4 lead. After a three-second violation on Partizan's Slavko Vranes, Charles Smith connected from beyond the arc, putting the hosts up 11. Partizan took a timeout and Madrid used the break to start pressing, but the visitors were able to break the trap for a Kecman layup. The visitors then went to the trap and earned a basket for Palacio. Following a shot-clock violation on Madrid, Kecman scored on the offensive glass to make it 17-11. However an Axel Hervelle steal and slam allowed the hosts to finish the first quarter up 20-11.B
Velickovic had the first basket of the second period, but Madrid continued to attack the basket as a Papadopoulos hook and Michalis Pelekanos free throws restored a double-digit lead. The pressure seemed to get to Partizan, which was turning the ball over far too often. And when Sergio Llull made free throws midway through the period, Madrid had twice as many points in the game as Partizan, 26-13. Cedomir Vetkovac cut to the basket for a basket and Palacio added points in transition, but Mumbru's free throws kept his team comfortably ahead. Blagota Sekulic increased the lead to 33-21 with a bucket inside as the hosts went into the locker rooms at the break seemingly in total control.
Velickovic's two-handed slam in transition gave the visitors some hope as the second half began, but Partizan still had trouble producing points in a set offense, while a Lopez triple put Madrid up 15. Partizan managed to keep pace through a Kecman triple and later a Palacio three-point play, however a pair of Bullock triples sunk Partizan, as the lead grew to 48-30. Partizan took a timeout and came back with a Velickovic basket and soon after a slam, Kecman made 2 free throws. However Lopez went coast-to-coast and a steal led to Reyes free throws as the hosts continued to dominate. A Velickovic triple and Milenko Tepic jumper cut the Partizan deficit to 11, but Bullock answered with a three of his own. Smith added free throws to end the third period at 59-42.
Both teams seemed to have accepted the result by the time the fourth quarter began. Reyes increased Madrid'd lead to 20, but Palacio made two baskets to avoid having the difference reach embarrassing proportions. Kecman's three and layup would trim the gap to11, but with two minutes to go, it was far too little, too late. Still the visitors continued their late rally and Palacio's basket followed by a Pekovic three-point play made it 60-61 with 1:09 remaining. But Bullock never wavered and came right back with a four-point play to erase any doubts and send Partizan to its second straight loss. Real Madrid coach Joan Plaza:
"It is obvious that we made some mistakes in this game, but we didn't want to speculate with our lead. The team has shown its character, that gives everything on court and that has a clear vision of what it wants. We believe we are in the right track. A 4-0 record in the Euroleague is a good situation for us in order to carry on growing in the competition and do things right. We had good game rhythm tonight against a tough team that will be hard to beat in Belgrade." Real Madrid guard Louis Bullock:
"This is an important win and we also know that we didn't play a perfect game. I think we played good defense, very good. We improved our offense in the second half and we were solid in the key moments. A 4-0 record give us energy to face some complicated Euroleague games in the upcoming games." Partizan Igokea coach Dusan Vujosevic
"I want to congratulate Real Madrid for this well-deserved win. It was not a very good game and my team made a lot of mistakes due to Real Madrid's defensive pressure. Their defense to our power forwards was outstanding. We have prepared some plays to avoid these mistakes but things did not turn out to be the way we planned them. We know we have a young team and it is normal to be up-and-down during the season. Real Madrid is a very good team and even when they won tonight, they can do things even better." Partizan Igokea guard Milt Palacio:
"The team had a slow start in the game, which allowed Real Madrid to get the initial lead and reach halftime with a 12-point margin. We improved our game rhythm in the second half and we managed to cut that deficit a bit. We reached the end of the game in a good physical condition and thinking that we could complete our comeback. We could not make it in the end because Madrid played good defense and its shooters hit the right shots down the stretch."
Wednesday, November 14, 2007