Prokom Trefl Sopot took another solid step toward its Top 16 dream with a 76-68 home win against Partizan PMB in Group A on Wednesday. Prokom used a 30-5 run that bridged the second and third quarters to control the game the rest of the way. The victory left Prokom with an even 4-4 record and sure to share fourth place going into the new year. Partizan, now concentrated on giving time to its fine young talents, fell to 1-7. Mark Miller came off the bench to lead Prokom with season-high 19 points, 14 of them in the first period. Tomas Masiulis added 14 as the only other Prokom player in double figures. Blake Stepp had 12 points for Partizan, Slobodan Bozovic and Vule Avdalovic 11 each, Uros Tripkovic and Kosta Perovic 10 each. Partizan made 12 of 24 three-pointers, but committed 19 turnovers, which proved more decisive.
The game was very equal from the start as neither team could gain a bigger advantage than four points as fouls and turnovers dominated the early minutes. Partizan went to big boys Perovic and Semih Erden for 11 points inside during the quarter, and the guests even led 9-13 following Tripkovic's three-pointer in minute 7. But Miller came off the bench and responded with a bomb from downtown, too, thus starting his show. He would proceed to score 14 confecutive points for Prokom before the quarter finished, 3 more than he had in any full Euroleague game to date. Still, Prokom couldn't escape with a bigger lead as when Stepp and Bozovic finished the quarter with three-pointers, the scoreboard showed another tie, 24-24.
Stepp opened the second quarter with 2 triples in a 0-8 run to give Partizan the game's biggest lead yet, 24-32 in minute 13. But that was the end of Partizan's fun. Prokom's bench players - Istvan Nemeth, Andrija Ciric and Filip Dylewicz - came on to toughen the defense scored some easy points after steals. Neither did they have trouble against Partizan's zone defense as Prokom used 17-1 run to take a comfortable 41-33 lead. Partizan had scored just 1 point in almost 6 minutes before Bogdanovic finally hit a bomb from a downtown. But Pacesas fastly answered with his own shot from the arc to close the first half with Prokom leading 44-36.
As it turned out, Bogdanovic's shot was Partizan's only points that were not free throws in more than 12 minutes. Prokom's defense ruled at the beginning of the third quarter, too, while Goran Jagodnik, Miller, Masiulis and Adam Wojcik boosted Prokom's run to 30-5 and its lead to 54-37. Partizan tried to cut the gap with three-pointers, but missed several attempts until Tripkovic connected on a 10-meter throw in the 30th minute. Masiulis finished the quarter with 8 points, several on assists from Tomas Pacesas, while Jagodnik checked in with another triple. Partizan's zone defense didn't work, but its main problem continued to be turnovers as Prokom guarded a comfortable 67-51 lead after 30 minutes.
The fourth quarter started with Bozovic hitting a pair of three-pointer and joined from the arc by Avdalovic, forcing a Prokom timeout with the scoreboard showing 68-60. Both teams made some mistakes them, so Prokom could not escape, nor Partizan get closer than 7 points. With 3 minutes remaining, it was still 72-65 after Stepp made 1 of 2 free throws. On the next possesion, Avdalovic missed a jumper, whose rebound Dylewicz converted for a layup at the other end, a decisive moment. Masiulis added a fastbreak dunk and the hosts controlled the game till the final buzzer to even their record heading into 2005.
Wednesday, December 22, 2004