Real leaves Belgrade with first road win
Real Madrid used a monster fourth quarter to come from behind and defeat Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 60-75 on Thursday at Stark Arena in the Serbian capital. Sergio Llull tallied 16 points and 5 assists, Rudy Fernandez scored 12 and Walter Tavares posted 10 points, 9 rebounds and a career-high 5 blocks in lifting Real to its first road win of the season. The result pushed Real's record to 4-3 and dropped Zvezda to 2-5. The hosts used a big third quarter to take a 52-49 edge into the fourth, however, Real knocked down 4 three-pointers to start the final stanza and held Zvezda scoreless for more than 5 minutes to take control for good. Billy Baron led Zvezda with 17 points and Lorenzo Brown recorded 14 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists.
Zvezda controlled the game's pace early with a total of only four shots made in the first 5 minutes, though one of them was a Llull triple that gave Real a 2-7 lead. After the TV timeout, Zvezda got going and tied it on a three-pointer by Lorenzo Brown before James Gist gave the hosts a 9-7 edge. Llull assisted Tavares and split free throws to lift Real to a 9-12 edge after 10 minutes. The Real defense stepped up in the second quarter, playing mostly with the team's second unit, and held Zvezda without a basket for more than 5 minutes, during which Nicolas Laprovittola led a 3-10 run for a 12-22 advantage. Zvezda erased much of its deficit through a Mouhammad Faye jumper, a Baron three-pointer and an Ognjen Kuzmic hook shot that made it 19-22. With the crowd threatening to erupt, Laprovittola sank a three that got Real rolling again and Fernandez also hit from downtown to put the visitors up 22-31. Lorenzo Brown and Baron brought Zvezda back before Llull beat the halftime buzzer with a shot that put Real ahead 27-33 at the break. Facundo Campazzo and Baron traded shots early in the second half. Barron then turned provider on an Ognjen Dobric triple that drew the hosts within 37-41. Tavares made an impact with a dunk on one end and a block on the other, but Borisa Simanic struck from downtown to keep Zvezda close, 40-45, midway through the third quarter. After a TV timeout, Simanic nailed a triple and Lorenzo Brown made free throws to even the score. Faye drained a three in the final minute of the quarter to give Zvezda its first lead since 9-7 and that' how the quarter ended, 52-49. Threes by Fernandez, Fabien Causeur, Llull and Fernandez again, while Zvezda was held scoreless for more than 5 minutes to start the fourth quarter saw Madrid sail in front by 9. Zvezda fought back to 56-61 on a Lorenzo Brown slam only to see shots by Llull and Fernandez give Real a double-digit lead, 58-68, with 2:30 remaining. Causeur soon added a three for a 12-point advantage as the visitors coasted to victory.
After struggling from downtown for three quarters, Real erupted in the fourth making 7 of 9. Rudy Fernandez made 3 of those while Fabien Causeur and Sergio Llull netted 2 each. The only one of them to miss was Llull - once. The other missed three in the fourth came from Walter Tavares in the closing seconds; it was the first three-point try by the 2.20-meter center in his EuroLeague career.
Walter Tavares made sure Real owned the paint and he had plenty of help from teenager Usman Garuba with the latter going for 4 points, 8 rebounds and 1 block in 20 minutes. Thanks to their presence, Zvezda shot 12 for 31 on two-pointers (38.7%). Real owned the glass 31-40 and had 11 second-chance points while not allowing Zvezda any.
It's unlikely Crvena Zvezda would have been fighting for the game in the fourth quarter if not for the exploits of Lorenzo Brown, who seems to have found his stride in his first EuroLeague season. He posted 14 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 blocks without a single turnover for a performance index rating of 24. Since struggling versus FC Barcelona in Round 4, Brown has averaged 14 points, 4 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 1 steals for a PIR of 20.
Real Madrid faces a stern test next week in Round 8 in el Clasico against its domestic archrival FC Barcelona. Zvezda hosts French champion LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne.
Thursday, November 7, 2019