Randolph grabs double-double in Madrid win
Real Madrid withstood a tough test from Spanish rival Herbalife Gran Canaria to advance to 8-0 with an 89-76 home victory. The visitors led most of the first half after a barrage of three-point shooting, but improved defense allowed Madrid to take control after the break and Gran Canaria's late rally wasn't enough. Anthony Randolph paced Madrid with a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Klemen Prepelic – deputizing for the injured Sergio Llull – scored 13 and Rudy Fernandez did a bit of everything with 9 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals. D.J. Strawberry paced Gran Canaria, which dropped to 2-6, with 20 points and Round 7 MVP Eulis Baez added 14.
Gran Canaria's long-range shooting quickly hit top stride with a triple from Kim Tillie, 2 from Strawberry and another from Marcus Eriksson securing an early 4-12 edge. Facundo Campazzo and Randolph both scored twice to pull Madrid closer, but Strawberry sank his third three-pointer before Christopher Evans finished the quarter with 5 quick points for a 22-28 lead. The home team started the second quarter fast and tied the game at 33-33 through Prepelic from deep, but Xavi Rabaseda, Clevin Hannah and Baez all struck triples to send Gran Canaria back ahead. The visiting team's scoring finally slowed towards the end of the first half, which saw Madrid mount a 10-2 run in the final five minutes, including 6 points from Randolph, for a 47-43 halftime lead. Defense from Walter Tavares and offense from Randolph and Campazzo saw Madrid stretch the lead to double digits midway through the third, but Gran Canaria rallied through free throws. It was 62-57 after three quarters. Baez struck from deep, but Jaycee Carroll and Prepelic answered from close range and a wild triple from Fernandez stretched the advantage. Gran Canaria didn’t give up and a fastbreak layup from Strawberry made it 77-70 with three minutes left, but a hustle steal from Fernandez allowed Randolph to slam for a decisive lead inside the final two minutes and it wasn't close again.
Gran Canaria can't sustain shooting spree
Gran Canaria's three-point shooting was at record-breaking pace in the early stages. The visitors netted 4 triples in the first three and a half minutes and continued at a similar rate, converting their ninth of the game midway through the second quarter. Gran Canaria was 9 of 12 from long range at that point, but it couldn't be sustained. Madrid tightened its perimeter defense and Gran Canaria only made 2 more three-pointers and finished 11 of 27 from beyond the arc.
Tavares swats them away
Perhaps one major reason for Gran Canaria's persistence from downtown is that it kept the ball away from Walter Tavares. And the Madrid big man certainly made his presence felt whenever the visitors did attempt to attack inside, blocking 4 shots and disrupting several more. Those swats protected Tavares's status as the league's leading shot blocker and right now nobody else looks like coming close to challenging him for that crown.
Prepelic steps in for Llull
Madrid was handed a blow before the game with the news that Sergio Llull was unable to play through injury, but summer signing Klemen Prepelic stepped into an unfamiliar role to help fill the gap left by Llull with great authority. He played more than 14 minutes and paired 13 points with 3 assists, proving again that Madrids roster runs very deep.
Randolph continues hot streak
Another absentee was Gustavo Ayon, who suited up, but did not step onto the floor. But Anthony Randolph made sure his teammate was not unduly missed by continuing his great form with 20 points and 10 rebounds – his seventh game out of eight with double-digits scoring and his second double-double of the season.
Madrid heads to Greece for a tantalizing meeting with Olympiacos Piraeus on Thursday, while Gran Canaria returns home to take on fellow EuroLeague newcomer FC Bayern Munich.
Tuesday, November 20, 2018