Real survives thanks to fourth-quarter rally
Facing elimination and down by double digits midway through the fourth quarter, Real Madrid scored the final 16 points of the game for one of the biggest comebacks in Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs history, edging visiting Anadolu Efes Istanbul 80-76 in Game 3 of their best-of-five series on Tuesday night. Real cut the series deficit to 2-1, after a game in which Efes led by as many as 15 points on several occasions in the second half and 61-74 with 5 minutes left in the game. But behind Sergio Llull, Real hit 5 three-pointers in the next 4 minutes to complete a comeback and stay alive in the series. Llull finished with 20 points and 7 assists, Alberto Abalde scored 11 points, Usman Garuba had 10 points plus 9 rebounds while Alex Tyus collected 10 points and 7 rebounds. Vasilije Micic paced all scorers with 29 points and also had 6 assists and 3 steals for Efes and Rodrigue Beaubois netted 18 points in a defeat.
Real opened the game with a 1-2-2- matchup zone, mixing it up with man defense, which kept Efes scoreless for more 4 minutes. But Real did not find much of an offensive rhythm and only led 5-0 behind Jaycee Carroll's jumper and Alex Tyus's dunk. Efes missed its first 7 field goals before Sertac Sanli hit a mid-range jumper, followed by a pair of layups from Micic that gave the visitors their first lead. Llull nailed a triple and after Alberto Abalde's three-point, a jumper from Llull made it 13-8. However, Chris Singleton had a put-back layup and Beaubois hit a corner triple to tie it at 15-15 after 10 minutes. Beaubois stayed hot early in the second quarter with 9 points, which included a triple and a triple-plus-foul to make it 17-27. Causeur answered by stringing together 7 points - two floaters and a three-pointer, but back-to-back triples from Sanli and Micic restored breathing room for Efes, 24-33. Real kept going back to its 1-2-2 zone defense, which had Efes struggling, but the visitors kept control behind their defense. A triple from Micic made it 28-38 at halftime.
Beaubois and Carroll each banked in a shot from close range to start the third quarter, before a triple from Beaubois made it 30-45. Carroll and Usman Garuba hit a triple apiece to cut into the deficit, getting the hosts within 38-47, but Micic and Simon knocked down back-to-back three-pointers for a 40-55 margin. Real was not going away, as Abalde connected with Tyus for an alley-oop dunk and Llull and Garuba scored to get the hosts within 48-56 in the final minute of the third. But Beaubois scored a pair of floaters, one late in the third, and another early in the fourth to open a 48-62 cushion. Thompkins and Llull nailed back-to-back triples to give Real hope and Abalde's basket-plus-foul cut it to 58-66 with just under 7 minutes to go. But Larkin hit a three-pointer and Micic followed with one of his own before driving for a dunk that made it 61-74 with 5 minutes left. Llull and Abalde hit back-to-back threes to spark the hosts' final run and Garuba fought inside to make it 69-76. Llull nailed a second-chance triple and a three from Thompkins cut it to 75-76 with 1:35 left. Efes did not have an answer for Real's matchup zone, while Rudy Fernandez's off-balance step-back triple put Real in front for the first time since the first quarter, 78-76. Efes had a timeout, but Micic committed a turnover before Garuba scored a put-back with 22.5 seconds on the clock, the last basket of the night as Real completed a huge rally.
Efes led 61-74 when Sergio Llull hit his third triple of the night with 4:50 left, fueling a 19-2 run that saw Real shock Efes to come out on top and stay alive in the series.
Threes started falling
Real was 4 for 20 from three-point land entering the final 9 minutes of the game, but then went on to make 7 of 10 the rest of the way, with Sergio Llull knocking down 3 threes, Trey Thompkins netting a pair and Alberto Abalde and Rudy Fernandez had one each.
Llull scored 13 of his team-high 20 points in the fourth quarter. He was 4 for 7 on three-point shooting and also dished 7 assists, all in just 21:28 on the floor. The main defensive contributor in victory was Real's 1-2-2 matchup zone, which troubled Efes the entire night.
Start and finish
Efes started the game missing its first 8 shot attempts, 4 two-pointers, 2 three-pointer and 2 free throws, needing 4 minutes and 45 seconds to score. The visitors overcame the slow start and control the game until the final 5 minutes and 10 seconds during which they failed to score a single field goal on their last 7 possessions.
No Sergeant Swat
For the second consecutive game Real was missing star center Walter Tavares, who ranks second in rebounding and offensive rebounding this season and leads the EuroLeague in blocked shots.
Real won to force Game 4 of the series, which it will host on Thursday night, still hoping to become the first team ever to come back from a 0-2 series deficit. Efes remains a win away from a trip to the Final Four.
Tuesday, April 27, 2021