Real Madrid rallied from a double-digit deficit to down a resilient ASVEL Villeurbanne 87-78 on Thursday night in the Spanish capital. It was the seventh straight win for Real which improved its record to 22-6 and loser to securing homecourt advantage in the playoffs. ASVEL dropped to 10-18. The visitors used a strong start to open an 11-point second-quarter lead and even though Real quickly rallied, ASVEL was up 51-59 in the third quarter before the hosts put together a 23-5 charge bridging the third and fourth quarters to take control and never look back.
Real rallies, sinks ASVEL for seventh straight, 87-78
Jaycee Carroll led the way with 19 points, Fabien Causeur added 15 while Usman Garuba collected 10 points plus 6 rebounds in the victory. Livio Jean-Charles scored 13 points and Theo Maledon had 12 points for ASVEL, Matthew Strazel finished with 11 points and 5 assists and Tonye Jekiri collected 10 points and 11 rebounds in a losing effort.
Carroll opened the game with a triple and 5 points for Real, but ASVEL had a strong reply. Jean-Charles scored 6 points from close range, and David Lighty capped a 0-12 run with a jumper to give the visitors a 7-15 lead. A triple from Charles Kahudi made it to 9-18 midway through the first, before the hosts stepped up defensively to stop the bleeding. Tavares scored from close range, but ASVEL held a 14-20 edge at the end of the first quarter and Guerschon Yabusele's corner three extended it to 14-25 early in the second. But Rudy Fernandez and Causeur hit back-to-back triples to cut it to 22-25 before a triple from Trey Thompkins put Real in front 29-27. Strazel's three-point play snapped a 17-2 run before three-pointers from Yabusele and Jean-Charles restored ASVEL's slim lead, 36-38. Causuer's corner triple gave Real 39-38 halftime edge.
ASVEL opened the third quarter with a 2-8 run and Kahudi's fastbreak basket put the visitors up 41-46. Tavares showed up on defense and Carroll and Causeur hit back-to-back threes to put Real back in front 51-48. However, ASVEL replied with a 0-11 run that included a pair of jumpers from Jekiri and a triple from Devion Berry. Real answered with a 6-0 run fueled by Nicolas Laprovittola before Carroll scored 7 points including a triple that gave Real a 62-61 edge. Laprovittola's three-pointer helped the hosts take a 67-63 lead into the fourth and they stepped it up at the start of the fourth, scoring on their first three trips down the floor. Garuba's three-point play made it 74-65. Maledon and Strazel scored ASVEL's next 8 points, but Garuba had a triple and a dunk to keep the visitors at bay as Real closed things out.
Real had 17 turnovers, compared to ASVEL's 11, but the hosts finished with 37-27 rebounding advantage and dished 20 assists to ASVEL's 14.
Real center Usman Garuba, four days shy of his 18th birthday, shined with 10 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists, including some big plays late in the fourth quarter to put ASVEL away. Real's 18-year old forward Mario Nakic got his first EuroLeague start. He finished the game playing 7:42, almost doubling his previous total, and scored 2 points. For the visitors, 18-year old Theo Maledon had 12 points, and a 17-year old Matthew Strazel had 11 points and 5 assists.
Real's veteran center Felipe Reyes is the all-time leader in the offensive rebounds. He entered the game with 699 for his career, and on the very start of the fourth quarter he became the first player with at least 700 for his career.
This was the fourth EuroLeague game this century between these two teams and the first time the home team won.
Pablo Laso, Real Madrid
"From the beginning, we knew that it was going to be very hard. They play physical, with a lot of intensity, and they showed it Tuesday against Valencia. For us it was difficult, we had a game on Sunday in Malaga, we had a trip to Milan, and then today. It is three games in five days. We have some player injuries, some are playing too many minutes. We missed some freshness, let's say. But we did a lot of very good things to stay in the game, we rebounded well. Our free throw percentage was not good, we had some not very smart turnovers, but I think overall we had a solid game and that is why we got a victory. Mario [Nakic] gave us a good start, we needed that extra energy Usman [Garuba] and Mario gave us. Mario was very important in the beginning to start with a different lineup, that way we were able to rotate more. And Usman gave us a lot of energy in the end with some important shots, rebounds and defense. I'm very happy for them, and I am very happy for the team."
Zvezdan Mitrovic, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne
"Congrats to Real for the victory. It is pleasant to come here to play in Madrid against a team like Real Madrid. I think my team played a good game tonight. We made Real sweat tonight. Real was very aggressive on offense, we committed a lot of fouls, Real shot 31 free throws against our 15. It was difficult for us to control the game. But I think for my young point guards, Strazel and Maledon, it is an amazing experience to play against the players you have in front of you, like Campazzo, Laprovittola etc."
Jaycee Carroll, Real Madrid
"Excited to get a good win. They are athletic, they are physical, they play hard. Had to fight them off the entire game. In the third quarter, we got a little relief, made some shots, we had a little run. And in the fourth quarter, we came in and finished things well."
Fabien Causeur, Real Madrid
"The key was that we kept pushing. They were very physical from the beginning of the game and pushed us to the limit until the end. We were not in a good situation in the third quarter, but the team kept attacking, being physical, staying in the game and that is why we found a way to win the game."