Llull's late heroics lead Real Madrid past Maccabi
In an intense battle between Turkish Airlines Euroleague classics, Real Madrid improved to 4-1 in Top 16 Group F by edging previously undefeated Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 74-68 in the Spanish capital on Thursday. Madrid and Maccabi join a three-way tie with CSKA Moscow for first place in Group F, each with a 4-1 record. Sergio Llull paced the winners with 20 points, including Madrid's last 8 in the final 100 seconds. Rudy Fernandez added 16 points and 8 rebounds for Madrid. Sofoklis Schortsanitis and Guy Pnini led Maccabi with 15 points apiece. Ricky Hickman added 11 for the guests. Nikola Mirotic and Fernandez shined early to give Madrid a 16-8 lead. An unstoppable Schortsanitis and a three-pointer by Joe Ingles allowed Maccabi to get a 19-20 edge after 10 minutes. Madrid improved its defense, as Llull and Felipe Reyes gave the hosts to get a 39-35 edge at halftime. Pnini took over after the break, getting help from Devin Smith and Hickman for a 56-57 Maccabi lead through three quarters. Schortsanitis and Tyrese Rice gave Maccabi a 64-66 lead with over three minutes left but Llull sank back-to-back three-pointers and soon added free throws to lead Madrid to a very important home win.
First quarter: Schortsanitis shines as Maccabi jumps in front
Yogev Ohayon fed Alex Tyus for a slam to get Maccabi going. Mirotic made free throws and Fernandez found Ioannis Bourousis with a two-handed slam, good for a 4-2 Madrid lead. Maccabi struggled to get Ingles and Smith involved. Tyus stepped up with a wild two-handed slam that Mirotic erased with more foul shots. Tyus kept pacing the guests with a fallaway jumper that Llull bettered with a catch-and-shoot three-pointer, good for a 9-6 Madrid lead. Ingles sank a six-meter shot but Mirotic struck from downtown and Fernandez added consecutive fast break layups for a 16-8 Madrid edge. Ingles tried to change things with a backdoor layup and free throw by Schortsanitis kept Maccabi within 16-11. Schortsanitis shined with a tip-in, but Rudy did better with a wild three-point play. An unstoppable Sofo scored twice in the paint and a three-pointer by Ingles put Maccabi back ahead, 19-20, after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Madrid improves defense, surges ahead
Pnini struck from downtown early in the second quarter, as the game turned into a physical battle. Llull took over with a coast-to-coast layup that Rice erased with a driving basket. Rodriguez split free throws and a power basket by Reyes made it a 1-point game. Maccabi kept struggling to score and an alley-oop layup by Marcus Slaughter put Madrid back ahead, 26-25. The hosts continued to excel on defense, holding Maccabi scoreless for more than three minutes. Rudy made free throws and answered to David Blu's corner triple with an acrobatic basket for a 30-28 Madrid edge. After Hickman split foul shots, Reyes hit a jump hook and a fast break layup by Llull caused Maccabi to call timeout at 34-29. Dontaye Draper ignited the crowd with a fast break basket that Hickman erased with a one-handed floater. Hickman hit a technical free throw, but Tremmell Darden and Pnini traded three-pointers to fix the halftime score at 39-35
Third quarter: Physicality of the battle wows the fans
Schortsanitis split free throws after the break and a three-pointer by Darden boosted Madrid's lead to 42-36. Mirotic made free throws, but Pnini answered from downtown and a diving steal by Schortsanitis allowed Smith to bring Maccabi within 44-41. Hickman sank a jumper and a free throw by Schortsanitis tied it at 44-44. Llull beat the guests' zone defense with a driving layup that Pnini improved with another triple to give Maccabi a 46-47 edge. Ohayon joined the three-point shootout and a driving layup by Smith made it 46-52. Rodriguez swished a five-meter jumper but Pnini nailed his fifth three-pointer in as many attempts. Fernandez scored again and free throws by Rodriguez kept Madrid within 52-55. Hickman stepped up with a big jumper, but Fernandez made 3 of 4 free throws and Reyes split attempts to bring Madrid as close as 56-57 after three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Llull rises to the challenge
Reyes split free throws early in the fourth quarter. Maccabi was held scoreless for more than two minutes until Schortsanitis found space for a layup. Rudy sent the crowd to its feet with a three-pointer. Schortsanitis split free throws and Llull took over with an acrobatic basket – and the free throw that came with it. A free throw by Slaughter made it a 4-point game midway through the fourth quarter. Hickman used a great screen from Schortsanitis to strike from downtown. Free throws by Schortsanitis and Rice allowed Maccabi to regain the lead, 64-66, with over three minutes left. Reyes did not miss from the foul line and a three-pointer by Llull restored a 69-66 Madrid margin with under two minutes to go. Schortsanitis made free throws, but Llull struck again from downtown to ignite the crowd at 72-68. An unstoppable Llull made free throws to seal the outcome, allowing Madrid to celebrate a big home win.
Thursday, January 30, 2014