Reds routed Caja Laboral 102-85
Olympiacos clinched first place in Group H by dominating Caja Laboral 102-85 on Thursday for its 10th straight win. The importance of winning the group is great for the Reds, who will have home-court advantage in the best-of-five Quarterfinal Playoffs and they have now won 13 in a row at Peace and Friendship Stadium. Meanwhile Laboral fell to 2-3 and faces a do-or-die showdown at home against Cibona next week with a playoff berth on the line. Laboral made Olympiacos work hard early, taking a double-digit lead behind Mirza Teletovis’s red-hot first-quarter shooting. Olympiacos took the lead for good as Sofoklis Schortsanitis led an 8-0 run to finish the first half ahead 49-45. Big Sofo then teamed with Linas Kleiza and Josh Childress in a 15-0 third-quarter charge that broke the game open. Another 14-0 push bridging the third and fourth quarter turned tie closing minutes into a blowout allowing the Reds to thrill their fans with great passing and impressive slams en route to the win. Childress paced the Reds with 20 points and 10 rebounds, Schortsanitis added 19 points in 18 minutes, Kleiza scored 17, Nikola Vujcic recorded 14 points and 5 assists and Milos Teodosic had 14 points and 4 assists. Teletovic led Laboral with 25 points, Carl English scored 14 and Stanko Barac and Fernando San Emeterio 11 each. Laboral made 7 of 11 (63.6%) threes in the first half, but just 3 of 16 (18.8%) in the second half when its 22 turnovers ended its chances.
Kleiza shook off injury to start and scored the game’s opening basket. Teletovic showed he was ready for a big night with a triple and San Emeterio made it 2-5. English stepped up next with a basket-plus-foul, taking the visitor’s lead to 4-10. The hosts went inside to Kleiza and Schortsanitis, but a red-hot Teletovic connected again from downtown and Pau Ribas did the same to lift Laboral to 8-18. Teodosic penetrated for the Reds, but Teletovic’s third three took the lead to 11. English and San Emeterio both hit tripled to cancel out baskets by Kleiza, Childress and Schortsanitis. After English made it 20-29, Kleiza’s offensive rebound and slam brought the Reds within 22-29 after 10 minutes.
Walter Herrmann took the lead back to 9 at the start of the second quarter, however baskets by Teodosic and Theo Papaloukas restored the hosts’ confidence. Barac got involved, including hitting his first Euroleague three-pointer, as Laboral succeeded in holding Olympiacos’s comeback efforts off. The Reds strengthened their defense and became more effective on offense, as four players – Childress, Loukas Mavrokefalides, Patrick Beverley and Teodosic – scored in a 10-0 run to give the hosts their first lead since the opening minutes, 41-38. Laboral did not fall apart as Sean Singletary, Barac and Oleson helped the visitors get back on top. However Schortsanitis scored 5 points in the last two minutes of the half to give his team a 49-45 halftime lead.
Big Sofo picked up where he left off with a basket in the paint, but English rained in a three. Schortsanitis scored twice more – including an uncontested dunk thanks to a perfect pass from Teodosic – and Childress scored in transition as the lead shot to 59-50. Despite a Laboral timeout, the visitors could not find the basket and Olympiacos continued to run and score. Childress and Kleiza each added points in a 15-0 push that made it 68-50. Barac and San Emeterio scored, but there was no stopping Olympiacos. However Laboral continued to fight and a Teletovic triple and a Lior Eliyahu slam suddenly narrowed the gap to 72-61. The Reds used a timeout, refocused and rode Vujcic and a last-second steal and jumper by Papaloukas to go up 80-61 at the end of the quarter.
Olympiacos's dominance continued with 6 more points, the last a highlight-reel worthy two-handed slam by Childress after a full-court pass from Vujcic. Marcelinho Huertas scored from the line, but by now the outcome was clear. The Reds continued to move the ball well, practically putting on a passing clinic on offense, as they enjoyed the closing minutes of what turned into an easy win.
Thursday, March 4, 2010