Crvena Zvezda led from start to finish as it dominated Gran Canaria 2014 97-67 in the Serbian capital on Tuesday. Nemanja Bjelica and Mike Taylor shined bright for the hosts, who survived a third-quarter Granca charge and put things away with a 21-0 fourth-quarter charge. Crvena Zvezda is now 2-0 in Last 16 Group L before traveling to face winless Turk Telekom next week. Gran Canaria dropped to 1-1 and next hosts CEZ Basketball Nymburk. It was a coming out party for Bjelica, who paced the winners with a career-high 22 points, while Taylor continued his red-hot form with 21 points, 4 assists and 4 steals. Elmedin Kikanovic added 15 points, Oliver Stevic scored 13 and Marko Keselj 10 for the winners. Melvin Sanders made 5 of 6 three-pointers to lead Gran Canaria with 17 points, Jaycee Carroll added 14 and James Augustine 10. The hosts outshot Gran Canaria – including making 9 of 17 three-pointers – outrebounded (28-14) the visitors and recorded 10 steals in an impressive showing. Sanders’s hot shooting brought the visitors within 29-28 midway through the second quarter, but Taylor fueled a 16-5 push that helped Crvena Zvezda take a 53-37 halftime advantage. Twice in the second half Granca cut the gap to single digits, but each time Crvena Zvezda answered with a vengeance to roll to a big home win.
Crvena Zvezda started strong as Keselj buried a three-pointer and Stevic scored inside before Augustine got Gran Canaria on the board with a pair of free throws. The Gran Canaria defense took away the Crvena Zvezda transition game and forced the hosts into a halfcourt offense, while Augustine and Sitapha Savane fed each other for easy scores on consecutive trips down the floor. Kikanovic and Stevic stepped up and made their shots to lift the hosts to 13-6. A Jim Moran jumper and Carroll runner kept Granca close, but Crvena Zvezda extended its lead on a Kikanovic three and a Stevic tip-in. Vuk Radivojevic made it a 10-point lead from the line before baskets by Augustine and Carroll narrowed the gap to 22-15 after 10 minutes. Sanders came off the bench to start the second quarter and soon delivered a trio of three-pointers to bring Granca within 29-28. Taylor came back in and zipped in for a reverse layup to save the hosts. Radivojevic added free throws and Taylor also scored from the line and created a steal that led to a Bjelica basket and a 40-31 lead. Augustine turned an offensive rebound into free throws, but the hosts continued their charge as Kikanovic scored and Keselj made his second three of the night to cap a 16-5 run. Marcus Norris hit twice from the line, but Bjelica scored inside and out and Taylor beat the buzzer with a long three-pointer to make it 53-37 at the break.
Crvena Zvezda looked to put the game away as Stevic corrected a Taylor miss and Kikanovic took a dish from Taylor to make it a 20-point game. Gran Canaria fought back as Augustine and Norris scored on back-to-back possessions. Taylor and Norris traded threes, but Carroll and Norris continued to pound away at the Crvena Zvezda lead. Taylor went out for a rest after committing a pair of turnovers and Granca continued to get closer. Carroll drilled a three and McDonald scored from the line and in the paint to complete a 1-11 run to make it 65-57. Keselj revived the hosts from the line and even though Crvena Zvezda continued having trouble generating points, Gran Canaria also cooled off. Vladimir Stimac and Bjelica added free throws and McDonald missed a dunk at the end of the quarter, leaving the hosts up 72-59. Taylor scored in transition before Carroll sank a three to start the fourth quarter. Carroll assisted Sanders for a downtown strike to narrow the gap to 9, but another basket from Taylor and 2 Bjelica free throws kept Crvena Zvezda in charge. Bjelica then dished to a wide-open Bjelica for a three that made it 81-65 and ignited the fans. Despite a Granca timeout, Taylor nailed a three from the top of the key and then slices up the visiting defense for a pretty layup to extend the hosts’ unanswered run to 12 points, essentially putting the game away. Granca’s misery grew when Carroll missed an open dunk, signaling to the fans that it was time to celebrate a big win. Bjelica added a basket and then made a pretty pass to Kikanovic as the hosts took their run to 21-0 before Sanders ended a seven-plus minute drought in the last minute.
Tuesday, February 2, 2010