Fernandez leads Madrid to big road win
Real Madrid got off to a strong start in Top 16 Group E by downing Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade 72-79 in front of 18,920 fans at Kombank Arena in the Serbian capital on Friday. Rudy Fernandez led the winners with 15 points and 6 rebounds. Felipe Reyes added 13 and Sergio Rodriguez scored 12, while Sergio Llull dished 9 assists for Madrid. Luka Mitrovic and Maik Zirbes led Zvezda with 13 points apiece. Nikola Kalinic added 10 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists for the hosts. Zvezda struggled to score early and a jumper by Fernandez gave the guests a 7-13 margin. Boban Marjanovic and Mitrovic brought the hosts within 12-15 after 10 minutes. A three-pointer by Andres Nocioni caused Zvezda call timeout at 12-20, but Charles Jenkins scored 7 points in a 9-0 run as the hosts took a 21-20 lead. Fernandez and Reyes led Madrid to regain a 31-34 edge at halftime. A fast break dunk by Kalinic put Zvezda back ahead, 40-38, soon after the break. However Llull, Fernandez - twice - and Rodriguez struck from downtown in a 0-14 run that broke the game open and gave Madrid a 45-58 margin after 30 minutes. The guests boosted their margin to 47-65 early in the fourth quarter and managed to keep full control of the game until the final buzzer.
First quarter: Frontcourt puts Madrid ahead
Gustavo Ayon got Madrid going with a fast break slam, which Mitrovic bettered with a three-pointer for a 3-2 Zvezda lead. Ayon swished a five-meter jumper, but Reyes erased Boban Marjanovic's catch-and-shoot basket with a jump hook and soon added a bomb from downtown to boost the guests' lead to 5-9. Marjanovic kept pushing Zvezda with a close basket, but the hosts had started to miss open shots, allowing Madrid to double-team him more effectively in the low post. Jonas Maciulis hit free throws and a jumper by Fernandez boosted the guests' lead to 7-13. Mitrovic scored around the basket and a free throw by Marjanovic kept Zvezda within 10-13. Marjanovic ignited the crowd with a big basket in the low post, which Ioannis Bourousis erased with a backdoor layup to restore a 12-15 Madrid lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Visitors hold on to slim lead
K.C. Rivers scored in penetration early in the quarter and Rodriguez fed Andres Nocioni for a three-pointer in transition, which caused Zvezda to call timeout at 12-20. Charles Jenkins stepped up with a three-pointer and soon added free throws to bring the hosts within 3. Madrid could not find the way to the basket, while a layup by Jenkins and a wild, two-handed slam by Zirbes completed Zvezda's comeback, 21-20, after a 9-0 run. Marcus Slaughter shined with a follow-up layup and back-to-back three-pointers by Rivers and Fernandez gave Madrid fresh air at 21-28. Mitrovic followed a turnaround jumper with a reverse layup, but a one-handed alley-oop slam by Slaughter kept Madrid ahead, 25-30. Marcus Williams hit foul shots and a put-back slam by Kalinic brought Zvezda within 1. Fernandez and Branko Lazic traded free throws and a layup by Reyes fixed the halftime score at 31-34.
Third quarter: A rain of three-pointers!
Reyes hit a close jumper immediately after the break. Maciulis hit a mid-range shot off the dribble, as Zvezda tried to get Marjanovic involved without much success. Lazic stepped up with a catch-and-shoot corner triple and a big basket by Mitrovic made it a 2-point game. Mitrovic kept pushing Zvezda with a layup and he fed Kalinic for a fast break dunk that ignited the crowd, 40-38. Madrid called timeout and Reyes scored in the low post, but Marjanovic answered with a one-handed jumper. Fernandez nailed a step-back shot and Reyes returned the lead to Madrid, 43-44. Llull struck from downtown before Zvezda stopped the game at 43-47. Fernandez joined the three-point shootout and soon swished another one to make it a double-digit difference, 43-53. Rodriguez hit a triple to cap a 0-14 run and Nocioni matched Kalinic's free throws with a buzzer-beating jumper for a 45-58 Madrid lead.
Fourth quarter: Madrid seals win with time to spare
Zirbes hit a jump hook early in the quarter, which Rodriguez erased with an off-balance jumper at the other end. Rodriguez took over with a wild three-pointer and Fernandez sent a behind-the-back assist to Nocioni for a layup that broke the game open, 47-65. Stefan Jovic nailed one from downtown and Kalinic added free throws, but an inspired Rodriguez scored again for a 52-67 Madrid margin. Zirbes dunked and matched Llull's rainbow jumper with a tip-in in traffic, but Bourousis kept Madrid way ahead, 57-71. Zirbes took over with a three-point play, but a one-handed floater by Jaycee Carroll and a layup by Bourousis sealed the outcome, 60-75, with less than four minutes left. By the time Nocioni shined with a one-handed slam, everything was said and done, as Madrid had cruised to a convincing, well-deserved road win.
Friday, January 2, 2015