Real hangs tough to overcome Efes
Real Madrid outlasted host Anadolu Efes Istanbul to claim its sixth consecutive win with a hard-fought 65-73 decision on Tuesday night. Both defenses dominated a closely contested first half that ended with Efes leading 37-31. Real edged ahead in the third quarter and the game remained extremely close in the fourth until the visitors pulled away in the final minute behind a pair of three-pointers from Jaycee Carroll. Fabien Causeur paced Real with 15 points, while Trey Thompkins added 13 and Nicolas Laprovittola combined 10 points with 6 assists. Vasilije Micic was Efes's only double-digit scorer, netting 16 points.
Shane Larkin downed the game's first 5 points off a steal-and-score followed by a three-point play, while Thompkins netted Real's first basket with a layup. Krunoslav Simon and Bryant Dunston extended Efes's lead, but Causeur in transition and Thompkins from deep brought Real back, 9-8. Adrien Moerman and Causeur traded triples before Micic added a layup-and-one for Efes. Chris Singleton came off the bench to strike from deep for a 20-13 Efes lead, which is how it stayed until the end of the first quarter. Micic's floater opened the second quarter scoring, but Laprovittola responded with a mid-range strike and a deep three to reignite Real, 24-18. Sertac Sanli and Micic protected Efes's lead, but Laprovittola netted another triple to keep it close. Simon and Rudy Fernandez struck from long-range before Dunston stretched the Efes advantage to 34-26. Thompkins scored under the basket and Fernandez buried another triple, but free throws from Singleton and Micic made it 37-31 at the break. After Sanli and Abalde scored 4 points each early in the third quarter, a tip-in by Jefferey Taylor made it 41-39. Soon, Taylor netted from deep, Tavares scored at the rim and Sergio Llull landed a transition three-pointer for Real's first lead, 45-47. Thompkins added another triple to complete a 0-11 Real run that Rodrigue Beaubois ended from deep for Efes, then immediately added another to send his team back in front, although Laprovittola's free throws made it 51-52 for Real after three quarters. Beaubois and Thompkins traded triples before Moerman also hit from deep and Larkin dived inside to give Efes a 59-55 lead. Causeur and Fernandez answered with a three-pointer each to flip the lead again, 59-61. Causeur converted inside to complete a 0-8 Real run that Dunston ended with a sharp inside move and layup before Micic scored in penetration for a 63-63 tie with 90 seconds left. Causeur sent Real back in front and then Jaycee Carroll blasted a three-pointer made it 63-68. Moerman's floater was answered by another Carroll strike from beyond the arc, securing the outcome for Real with 17 seconds remaining.
Three-pointers make the difference
A big difference in three-point accuracy was one of the keys to Real's win. Efes made just 7 of 31 long-range attempts (22.6%), while Real hit 14 of 35 from deep (40%) including a pair of crucial ones from Jaycee Carroll in the last minute.
Larkin starts hot but fades
Shane Larkin netted the first 5 points of the game but then missed 6 consecutive field goal attempts and didn't score again until 6 minutes remained. He ended up with just 7 points, missing all 6 of his three-point shots.
Tavares contributes despite scoring problems
After registering double-doubles in his previous four games, Real's influential big man Walter Tavares was restricted to 4 points. But he still had a big impact, grabbing 9 rebounds and blocking 2 shots.
Both teams protected their rims with intensity and the game yielded no less than 9 blocked shots. Efes had 4 from different players, while Rudy Fernandez and Walter Tavares made 2 blocks apiece in Real's total of 5.
Real's first game of 2021 comes at home to AX Armani Exchange Milan next Friday night, with Efes making the journey to LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne the same evening.
Tuesday, December 29, 2020