Dynamo Moscow passed the test of fire between two Top 16 newcomers when it rallied to win 74-86 over Aris in Thessaloniki, Greece in the Group G opener for both teams. Dynamo's defense decided the outcome by holding Aris without a basket during the first 7 minutes of the final quarter, turning a tie game into double-digits leads for itself with a 1-12 run. Dynamo goes to 1-0 while Aris fell to 0-1 despite another raucous sellout crowd behind it. Dynamo had a pair of Greeks to help it deal with that crowd, as January MVP Lazaros Papadopoulos led the winners with 18 points and Antonis Fotsis added 16. Bojan Popovic added 14 points, drew 10 fouls and made 4 steals. Two unexpected contributions boosted the hosts: newly signed Taquan Dean had near-perfect shooting and 12 points in 13 minutes, while Yuri Vasilyev chipped in 10
Dynamo started the game confidently and based on baskets coming from its own Greek duo, Fotsis and Papadopoulos, got in front 2-7. Aris showed some nervousness as experienced Giorgos Sigalas missed twice from the free-throw line and the team's decision-making on offence was lacking. Finally, Simonas Serapinas and Dimitris Tsaldaris hit jumpers from the wings scored to make it 6-7, but Dyamo immedately fed Papadopoulos and Fotsis for 4 quick points. It was time for the Aris big men to step up, as Massey and Wilkinson posted a basket each to make it 10-12. Papadopoulos continued unstoppable in the paint while Scales seized an opportunity from behind the ar. Fotsis and Massey exchanged baskets, but the real surprise came from Tsaldaris, usually used for a few minutes as a substitute, but now taking advantage of his starting assignment. Tsaldaris would finish the quarer with 7 points on perfect shooting, helping Aris stay as close as 22-23 after 10 minutes.
Wilkinson's free throw to open the second quarter tied the game for the first time, 23-23, but soon Dynamo reacted with foul shots from Yuri Vasilyev and a layup from Papadopoulos to make it 23-27. When Dean added another basket, Aris needed a timeout. The tempo slowed now as both teams committed fouls to disturb the other's offense. And when Massey connected, but Dean did the same at 26-31. Aris coach Andrea Mazzon used a four-guard lineup now with Giorgios Sigalas at power forward. Savvas Iliadis went for 3 straight points at 30-33, but Dynamo continued to control the rhythm. Sergey Monya and Sigalas exchanged baskets at 32-36. Scales nailed a triple at 35-37, but again Fotsis and Papadopoulos combined for 4 points to help Dynamo sail to 35-41. Scales was hot, however, popping in another three-pointer at 38-41. Papadopoulos was accurate from the line, but Wilkinson came in to score at 40-43. When Scales chipped in his fourth triple the fans went crazy as the scoreboard stood tied at 43-43 when the halftime buzzer sounded.
To open the second half, Scales found room for a layup that put Aris ahead for the first time, 45-43. Bojan Popovic restored the lead for Dynamo with a three-pointer, but Scales was in the zone as he added another jumper at 47-46. Dynamo was not bothered as a second consecutive triple, this time from Dean, gave the guests the lead again at 47-49. Baskets kept coming easy. Tsaldaris fired in back-to-back triples to make it 53-51 and Terrell Castle connected at 55-51. Aris was now controlling the score. uri Vasilyev dunked to curb the crowd’s enthusiasm, but soon Wilkinson made it 57-53. Vasilyev was now the go-to-guy for the visitors at 57-55, but Monya was the man to save the last word as his triple beat the buzzer and resulted to a 61-61 tie after 30 minutes.
Vasilyev and Papadopoulos were ready to hurt Aris as Dynamo sailed ahead 61-65 to start the final quarter. Aris was struggling to get connected. Dimitriy Khvostov came in off the bench to add a layup for Dynamo at 62-67. Aris scored just 1 point in 5 minutes because as Dynamo strengthened its defense, the hosts filled with pressure. Papadopoulos and Dean increased Dynamo's run to 1-10 and its lead to 62-71. When Dean fired in a crucial triple the home fans went quiet as Dynamo got a 63-74 advantage with just 3 minutes left. Aris kept turning over the ball until Wilkinson finally scored the hosts’ first basket 7 minutes after the start of the final quarter. It was way too late. Based on an incredible 12-1 beginning in the fourth quarter, Dynamo escaped from Thessaloniki with a critical Top 16 road win.
Thursday, February 15, 2007