Real comfortably downs Baskonia
Real Madrid comfortably overcame Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, staying perfect at home with an 89-74 victory. Real came out flying on offense, reaching a 50-35 lead at the break. The advantage grew to 20 in the third quarter before Baskonia found some offensive rhythm to make it closer, but the outcome never really looked in doubt. Guerschon Yabusele scored 13 points in the first quarter and finished with 17 points and 8 rebounds, while Anthony Randolph had a double-double of 13 points and 12 rebounds. Alberto Abalde scored 15, Vincent Poirier had 11, and Jeffery Taylor and Trey Thompkins both scored 10. Wade Baldwin IV paced Baskonia with 16 points, while Steven Enoch scored 11 and Rokas Giedraitis had 10. Real improves to 15-3 to keep a strong grip on second place, while Baskonia remains well adrift of the playoffs places at 7-12.
Enoch and Poirier exchanged inside blows to open the scoring, before Abalde, Yabusele and Taylor all hit triples to send Real ahead, 13-6. Yabusele netted inside three times in quick succession, extending the margin to 19-11 despite a three-pointer from Alec Peters. Fabien Causeur and the unstoppable Yabusele made it a double-digit game, but Baldwin’s long two beat the first quarter buzzer to pull Baskonia within 25-17. Randolph and Simone Fontecchio scored inside at the start of the second, before Yabusele stayed hot with another close-range conversion and Thomas Heurtel drained a triple for a 32-21 lead. Matt Costello hit back with a three-point play, Alec Peters added a transition jumper and Jayson Granger made a bank shot as Baskonia came back to 34-28. Randolph’s tip-in and Thompkins’ triple pulled Real clear again, before Sergio Llull’s triple and two scores from Abalde stretched the lead to 50-35 at half-time.
Yabusele prolonged his hot streak by opening the third quarter scoring, and fellow Frenchmen Poirier and Causeur also scored inside as Real continued to roll. Causeur hit a triple to make it 59-39, before Baldwin and Costello (twice) were on target from deep to revive Baskonia’s hopes. But Randolph’s rainbow three settled the hosts, helping make it 69-50 after three quarters. Giedraitis hit a three and Lamar Peters added a layup to make it closer early in the fourth, but two more scores for Randolph ensured the comeback never looked too threatening. Taylor’s baseline dunk made it 75-59 midway through the fourth. Baldwin’s three-point play kept Baskonia hoping, but Abalde and Taylor hit triples to keep the home team comfortable heading into the final minutes, 81-66. Thompkins scored 5 late points to keep a safe margin as Real cruised home.
Tavares out, Thompkins and Peters in
Real was forced to do without the services of star man Walter Tavares, who was ruled out a couple of hours before tip-off after a positive test for COVID. But his absence was compensated by the return of Trey Thompkins for the first time this season, and the veteran helped out with 10 points in his 13 minutes on the floor. Another plus was a strong performance from Guerschon Yabusele, who made 7 field goals without a single miss for 15 points in the first 13 minutes, also grabbing 5 rebounds in that spell during a sensational start to the game. Baskonia was also happy to welcome back a key performer as Alec Peters made his first appearance of the season. The power forward made a solid return, scoring 8 points and grabbing 5 rebounds in 26 minutes on the floor.
Real on fire in the opening stages
The pace of the early scoring was scorching, as Real netted 13 points in the opening three and a half minutes, making its first five field goal attempts. The home team continued to score freely, reaching the end of the first quarter with 8-of-10 two-point attempts converted and 3-of-5 from three-point range. That phenomenal level of efficiency couldn’t be maintained, but Real still finished with decent shooting percentages: 23-of-37 from two-point range (62.2%) and 11-of-29 from beyond the arc (37.9%). Madrid also dished 20 assists, provided by 9 different players.
Rebounding battle controlled by Real
Even when Real missed shots, the home team did a fantastic job of gaining second chances to score by grabbing 14 offensive rebounds – a pretty impressive effort considering it only missed 32 shots all night. Pablo Laso’s team also protected its own backboard, only allowing Baskonia to gain 4 offensive boards. All told, Real crushed the visitors in the rebounding battle, gaining 42 rebounds against just 25 for Baskonia. Anthony Randolph led the way with 12 boards, including 6 off the offensive glass in by far his best performance since returning after nearly a year out through injury.
Friday, January 14, 2022