Making a move against a direct rival in Group A, Pau-Orthez won its second straight game of the season, and first at home, 81-78 on Wednesday against visiting Partizan Mobtel. It was a tough win for the hosts, as neither team had clear advantages throughout the game, and things weren't decided until the last seconds. Partizan guard Gerald Brown even had the chance to send the game into overtime, but he missed the decisive triple. The win raises Pau's record to 2-3, while Partizan drops to 3-2. In a demonstration of depth and distribution, 7 Pau players scored between 8 and 12 points. The hosts were led by Dragan Lukovski and Laurent Foirest with 12 pointes each. Artur Drozdov added 11 and Nate Erdmann bagged 10. For the guests, Gerald Brown had 19 points, Kosta Perovic added 16 and 6 boards, Djuro Ostojic and Vule Avdalovic chipped in with 14 each and Frederick House contributed 10. Despite being outrebounded by Partizan 31-19, Pau won in part because it sank 21 of 22 free throws on the night.
The game began for Partizan much like its streak of positive results in recent weeks as a quick three-point play by Djuro Ostojic and a layup by Gerald Brown put the guests ahead 0-5. However, shooter Nate Erdmann replied with 5 fast points of his own to tie 5-5, and Dragan Lukovski made Pau's third shot without a miss for a 7-5 home lead. From that point, both teams would remain close to each other almost always. A 9-10 score in minute 5 of the first period turned into a new tie, 11-11 with Vule Avdalovic's free throw. Partizan looked in the paint for young Kosta Perovic, who would win the battle against Mate Skelin. Lukovski nailed a triple for 14-15, but Perovic was the lord of the paint and a couple of minutes later made it 19-19. Both teams shot over 50 percent in the quarter as Artur Drozdov's dunk for Pau left things at 23-21 after 10 minutes.
The second quarter was like most of the first. Neither team could open big gaps, and once Pau jumped ahead again, they never let go of the lead until the break. Frederic Fauthoux's triple for 30-29 started a Pau run that reached 8-0 thanks to another triple by Drozdov and 2 free throws by Fabien Dubos. Frederick House and Perovic again saved the situation for Partizan. Erdmann earned another five-point lead for the French team with his free throws. The game remained an amazing shooting display, as Pau was hitting 61% of its shots (14 of 23) and Partizan 58% (14 of 24). The rebounding battle was 6-11 for the guests as Perovic alone had already pulled as many boards as Pau. It was Perovic again who pulled Partizan within 41-38 in minute 19 with his 14th point, and later on, Ostojic appeared again to cut the deficit to the minimum 41-40 at the break.
After resumption things stayed the same and it all pointed to a close ending. Predrag Materic nailed an early triple for 41-45 and Avdalovic added 2 free throws to put Partizan ahead, 41-47. It wasn't until minute 26 that Pau scored its first point of the second half, through Florent Pietrus, whose free throw made it 42-47. The hosts had slipped to 15 of 32 in shooting from the floor, missing 8 of 9 shots in third quarter to that point. Now, owever, Cyril Julian nailed a triple which pushed Pau to tie the game again, 47-47. The game resembled a three-point shootout as Avdalovic put a fast 52-50 on the board thanks to another three. Foirest's foul against House allowed the latter to shoot 3 free throws and all went in, but a reply by Fauthoux also from the line and a last-second layup by Fabien Dubos put the French team back ahead after 30 minutes, 56-53.
Everything would be decided in the final stanza, which started with back-to-back triples, one for each side, but Ostojic was there to tie the game at 65-65 for Partizan. Perovic would equal things again for the guests at 67-67 but the clock didn't stop and neither team was in control yet. A three-point play by Skelin in minute 39 seemed to make things a bit clearer for Pau at 72-68. However, 3 free throws by Avdalovic pulled Partizan within 2 points again, 74-72. Another three-point play, this time by Pietrus as Perovic fouled out, earned another five-point lead for the hosts, 77-72. Ostojic added another layup for 77-74 but he quickly fouled Fauthoux who would nail both attempts from the foul line. Brown tried to give a last push to the guests, as he scored and was fouled for 81-78 with seconds to go. Brown missed his free throw, Goran Cakic pulled the board and passed to Brown again, but his triple wouldn't go in and the win stayed in France.
Wednesday, December 3, 2003