Madrid survives homecourt scare to keep first place
Real Madrid needed to resist a second comeback by Alba Berlin to hold on at home for a 77-72 victory on Friday and keep its share of first place in Top 16 Group E. Madrid survived a scare to raise its record to 7-1, tied with Anadolu Efes Istanbul for first place, while Alba fell to 1-7. Alba had rallied from 11 points down before halftime to lead for long minutes of the second half. Madrid re-established a double-digit lead at 73-63 before the visitors cut it to 75-72 with 35 seconds left, but Alba couldn't score again. Jaycee Carroll paced Madrid with 16 points, while Rudy Fernandez had 14, Nikola Mirotic 12 and Felipe Reyes 11. Alba got 14 points from Deon Thompson and 11 each from Yassin Idbihi and Dashaun Wood. Alba out-rebounded Madrid, the league leader, by 10-15 on the offensive glass and 31-40 overall, but Madrid's 25-for-29 free throw shooting as compared to 8 of 14 for the visitors, spelled the difference in the end.
Mirotic gets Madrid out front
Following a game-opening basket by Carlos Suarez, Madrid boosted its lead to 5-0 at the foul line and then to 10-2 as Mirotic found his shot from the arc. Wood got Alba’s first three-pointer as the visitors were able to pull within 12-9 on a layup by Idbihi. But that's when Mirotic detonated his second triple, blasting off a screen to make it 15-9. Albert Miralles answered from a shorter distance for Alba just as Derrick Byars answered free throws by Fernandez with a three-pointer to make it 17-14. The pattern held as Mirotic and Slaughter strung together 3 more free throws, but this time Alba's answer was a split-second late as a Miralles tip-in of a Byars miss was ruled to have come after the buzzer as Madrid held onto a 20-14 advantage after 10 minutes.
Miralles rallies Alba from 11 down
Miralles got his 2 points back in style to start the second quarter, dunking on a great pass from Heiko Schaffartzik, who soon drilled a three-pointer to get Alba within 22-19. But no sooner did he do that than Carroll matched him at the other end for Madrid. When Felipe Reyes got behind the defense in transition for a layup, Madrid's lead was back up to 25-19. After a timeout, Alba went inside to Idbihi for a hook shot, but Madrid answered with 7 points in a row - by Mirza Begic, Carroll from downtown, and Martynas Pocius - for the game’s first double-digit lead, 34-23. Alba responded strong, however. Thompson stuck with a rebound for a three-point play while Wood hit a free throw and fed Miralles on the break. When Idbihi downed free throws following an offensive rebound and Miralles made another tip-in, it was suddenly 34-33. Alba's run was 0-10 and it even had a three-point shot by Wood to go ahead, but it missed on the buzzer as Madrid clung to the minimum difference at halftime.
Alba makes its buzzer-beater this time
As Miralles did to start the second quarter, Wood got the basket he wanted after halftime to give Alba its first lead, 34-35. Madrid's scoreless streak stretched over 5 minutes bridging the halves as Je'Kel Foster drove baseline to make it a 0-14 run for Alba in that span. Fernandez ended Madrid's drought with an acrobatic layup, but Thompson answered him with a turnaround jumper to make it 36-39. Next, Fernandez created with a feed to Rafa Hettsheimer on the break. When Sergio Llull made 2 free throws, Madrid re-took the lead at 40-39, but Schaffartzik was ready with a three-pointer in response. Hettsheimer downed a short shot, but Sven Schultze also hit from the arc on Alba's next trip down the floor. With Alba ahead 42-45, Madrid went to its patented Llull-to-Fernandez lob for reverse dunk at 44-45. A Suarez layup and free throws by Fernandez were sandwiched around a three-point play by Thompson for a 48-48 tie. Inbounding with 4 seconds left in the quarter, Alba got the ball to Byars, who back-stepped for a rainbow jumper to put his team ahead 50-48 after 30 minutes.
Madrid holds on thanks to Reyes, Carroll
Fernandez kick-started the fourth quarter with a steal and fastbreak three-point play to regain the lead for Madrid. Wood was ready again, however, burying a triple as Alba went back up, 51-53. Reyes tied it up from the top of the lane before Carroll did the honors of shooting Madrid into the lead again from downtown. When Sergio Rodriguez fed Hettsheimer for a layup-plus-free throw, Madrid led 59-53 with 7:20 to play. Miralles got a free throw back before Wood's fastbreak layup made it 59-56. Carroll made an unconscious three-pointer off a screen and a pair of perfect free throws, however, for Madrid's biggest lead since the first half, 64-56. Free throws by Reyes were answered with a hook by Idbihi and a fastbreak layup by Nihad Djedovic. Mirotic scored inside and Carroll on the foul line to restore a double-digit lead, 70-60. Idbihi got loose for a basket-plus-free throw, but Reyes copied him at the other end. Thompson found back-to-back inside baskets as Alba refused to say die at 75-67. And when Foster broke for a layup, was fouled and hit the free throw, it was suddenly a five-point game again, 75-70, with 2 minutes left. Alba's defense held, but Carroll came up with a steal and Mirotic with an offensive rebound to eat a minute off the clock. Schaffartzik got a basket with 34 seconds left to extend Alba's run to 0-7 and make it a 75-72 scoreboard. But Fernandez returned to make a great cut, get fouled and sink both free throws with 16 seconds left that were enough to hold off the visitors and keep Madrid perfect at home this season.
Friday, February 22, 2013