Montepaschi Siena outlasted Partizan mt:s 77-74
Montepaschi Siena outlasted Partizan mt:s 77-74 in a physical clash at the Palaestra to improve to 2-2 and keep its Quarterfinal Playoffs hopes alive. Rimantas Kaukenas scored 11 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter to lead the Italian champs. It was a back-and-forth battle that saw two players on each team foul out. The game came down to the closing minute and Partizan had the ball down three, but after Curtis Jerrells missed a three and Jan Vesely made just 1 free throw, Nikos Zisis iced the victory with 4 free throws in the final 12.4 seconds. Shaun Stonerook and David Moss added 10 points apiece for Montepaschi, which hosts Efes Pilsen in a pivotal Group G clash next week. Regardless of the outcome of Thursday’s game between Efes and Real Madrid, Montepaschi will be no more than one win out of the playoffs entering next week. Partizan dropped to 0-4 in the group and saw its slim playoff hopes come to an end. Jan Vesely paced the Serbian champs with 17 points and 7 rebounds, Curtis Jerrells netted 16 and dished 5 assists and Rasko Katic hauled in 12 rebounds in defeat.
Defense and nerves ruled early with the first two minutes passing without a basket. Kaukenas finally got the hosts going with a steal and layup, but James Gist soon responded from behind the arc. Vesely made a big impact inside with a layup and a slam as Partizan jumped out. Montepaschi head coach Simone Pianigiani went to his bench early, bringing in Andrea Michelori for Milovan Rakovic when the latter picked up his second foul. Partizan continued its promising start as Vesely soared for a second slam, resulting in a Siena timeout at 4-9. The hosts started to find their game as Stonerook drilled a triple and then after Ksistof Lavrinovic drew Gist’s second foul, the big man also connected from behind the arc to put Montepaschi ahead 10-9. Gist found Nathan Jawai for a slam and soon the visitors started flying again with aggressive defense denying the hosts. Jawai sank 4 free throws on consecutive possessions as the visitors went up 11-18. A pair of Jaka Klobucar free throws stretched the lead to 12-20 after 10 minutes.
Dragan Milosavljevic put the visitors up 10 early in the second quarter before Rakovic used his speed to get a basket inside. A sloppy move from Zisis allowed Jerrells to coast in for a slam. Pietro Aradori cut the gap to 6 from the line only to see Katic respond for the visitors. Zisis brought a roar from the crowd when he stole a pass and went coast to coast for a layup-plus-foul. Dusan Kecman put Partizan back up by 9 with a triple. After Kaukenas hit 2 from the line, the momentum started to shift towards the hosts. Vesely missed a dunk and at the other end Michelori scored and was fouled, narrowing the gap to 26-29. A Partizan timeout didn’t change anything as Marco Carraretto capped a 9-0 run from downtown to tie the score. Jerrells handed off to Vesely for a two-handed jam. Moss got to the line on consecutive possessions and sank 4 free throws to give Montepaschi its first lead since 4-3. Vesely banked in a shot and drew a foul and Lavrinovic made free throws as the lead switched hands back and forth. Zisis drew a foul and sank a circus shot to extend the Montepaschi lead to 4, but Vesely capped a strong first half with a triple at the buzzer to leave the score at 38-37.
Partizan pulled ahead at the start of the third quarter. Katic tied the score from the line, Jerrells added a basket and then a technical foul on Kaukenas resulted in free throws for Kecman and Jerrells. Katic added 1 more from the line for 0-8 start to the half. Moss fed Rakovic to end a four-plus minute scoring drought for Montepaschi. Katic and Moss traded scores as Partizan stayed in control. Carraretto drained a long two-pointer, but then fouled Vladimir Lucic at the other end. Petar Bozic added a long two-pointer to stretch the lead to 44-52. Rakovic scored inside and a Malik Haiston connected from downtown as Montepaschi worked its way back. Stonerook made it 51-53 from the line. Hairston completed the comeback with a tough baseline move in the closing seconds of the quarter to make it 53-53.
Jerrells penetrated to put Partizan back on top 90 seconds into the fourth quarter. Then Kecman flicked in a tough shot to double the lead. Kecman and Katic each picked up their fourth fouls within seconds trying to deny the hosts. But it was Lavrinovic who fouled out first, leaving the floor with six-and-a-half minutes remaining. Kaukenas lifted the spirits of the Montepaschi fans with a tough basket, but Partizan used offensive rebounds for an extended attack that resulted in Stonerook’s fourth foul and a Gist free throw. Kaukenas cut the deficit to 59-60. After a Jawai turnover, a red-hot Kaukenas pulled up for a three that put Montepaschi ahead 62-60. A Partizan timeout changed nothing as Kaukenas pulled up for a jumper and got plenty of rim before the ball dropped in, capping a 9-1 run. Jerrells got to the line to keep Partizan in the picture. Kaukenas felt it too much and lost the ball trying to create something and Gist punished at the other end with a triple to put the visitors on top again. Kaukenas remained the go-to guy though and fouled Katic out and made free throws to make it 66-65 with three minutes left. Gist tied the score from the line. Stonerook pumped the crown with a clutch triple with 103 seconds left to play. After a timeout, Jerrells stretched for a layup to get Partizan within 69-68. Moss got 2 at the line and Jawai countered with a layup. Kecman fouled out trying to stop Moss, who converted 2 free throws with 48 seconds remaining. Jerrells pulled up from downtown looking for the tie, but missed. Vesely grabbed the rebound and Stonerook fouled out stopping him. But Vesely shot an airball on his first free throw with 25 seconds left. He made the second. Partizan sent Zisis to the line with 12.4 seconds left and he made it a two-possession game. Partizan missed a long three on its final possession and Zisis wrapped up the win from the line.
Wednesday, February 16, 2011