Crvena Zvezda gives crowd parting gift in rout of Vitoria
Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade led from start to finish in its last Turkish Airlines Euroleague game in front of its fans, downing Laboral Kutxa Vitoria 81-65 on Thursday night. The win improved Zvezda to 3-6 in Group D, though the team had already been eliminated from Top 16 contention. Laboral which qualified for the Top 16 last week, dropped to 5-4. The hosts raced to a big lead in the first quarter, dominating on both ends of the floor for 25-6 lead and kept the margin until the visitors rallied in the third quarter behind their defense, closing to within 52-46. But Jaka Blazic scored 14 of his game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter to spare Zvezda late drama. Ivan Radenovic and Charles Jenkins each added 11 points in victory, while Boban Marjanovic collected 9 points and 9 rebounds. Walter Hodge paced Laboral with 15 points and Lamont Hamilton tallied 13 points, 6 rebounds and 3 blocks. Andres Nocioni added 8 points and 6 rebounds in his return after four weeks on the sidelines due to injury.
First quarter: Zvezda storms out of the gate
The hosts dominated both ends of the floor from the start. On Laboral's first possession, DeMarcus Nelson made a steal and raced for a dunk. Nelson then fed Radenovic for an easy layup, before David Jelinek banked in a long jumper to open the visitors' account. But Marjanovic scored a pair of layups and Blake Schilb sank a jumper for Zvezda to open a double-digit margin. Radenovic scored from long range and close range to make it 17-2 after seven minutes. Hodge snapped a 13-0 run with a long jumper, and Lamont Hamilton followed it up with a fastbreak dunk. However, Blazic and Jenkins each buried a triple to make it 25-6 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Blazic and Schilb keep Laboral at bay
Hamilton started scoring in the second quarter, but Rasko Katic scored twice from close range for a 29-8 margin. Hamilton hit a three-pointer for the visitors, but Jenkins answered from downtown for Zvezda. A basket from Tibor Pleiss and a long jumper from Thomas Heurtel cut it to 32-18 midway through the second quarter. Heurtel added another basket, but Schilb drove for a dunk and Blazic for a layup and a 37-21 lead. The visitors stayed in touch with Leo Mainoldi scoring from downtown and Fernando San Emeterio coming up with a steal and a layup. But Blazic buried a corner three, followed by Schilb hitting a triple at the buzzer, giving Zvezda a 45-26 advantage at halftime.
Third quarter: Laboral uses defense to halve the deficit
Hodge opened the third quarter with a triple, and after Branko Lazic scored a basket for the hosts, Nocioni nailed a baseline jumper, Hamilton had a dunk, and Jelinek nailed a triple to close within 47-36. Laboral’s defense was aggressive and tough, not allowing any points for more than five minutes before Nelson scored a jumper to end Zvezda’s drought. But a three-pointer from Nocioni cut it to 49-41, and after Hamilton and Nelson traded baskets from close range, Hodge drove for a layup-plus-foul, 52-46. Marjanovic made a put-back against Laboral’s zone defense, and Jenkins drove for a layup and a 10-point margin. Thomas Kelati hit from behind the arc for Laboral, but Jenkins drove for another layup, making it 61-51 after three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Zvezda closes it out
Zvezda pulled away at the start of the fourth quarter, with Blazic stringing together a 7-0 run - a driving layup, a short jumper, and a triple - for a 68-53 cushion. After a timeout, Hodge sank one from long range, but Katic scored from close to the basket. Hodge added a long jumper and a fastbreak layup to his tally, but Blazic took a fastbreak for a dunk and 72-60. Nocioni fought his way for a put-back, keeping the visitors’ hopes alive, and San Emeterio scored on a fastbreak, but Blazic and Nelson put the game out of reach from the free throw line. Blazic closed out the game with a triple.
Thursday, December 12, 2013