Lottomatica Roma rejoined the battle to reach the Top 16 from Group A by upsetting Partizan 73-81 in Belgrade on Thursday night. Lottomatica improved to 4-6 in the group standings, joining a four-way tie with AEK, Union Olimpija and Pau-Orthez for the fifth spot in the group. Meanwhile, Partizan drops to 5-5 and now shares the third spot with Ulker. Corey Alexander led the winners with 22 points, making 6 of 9 two-pointers and 10 of 13 free throws. Carlton Myers added 21 and Marko Tusek had 10 for Lottomatica. Nenad Krstic led Partizan with 19 points, while Gerald Brown had 18 and 6 rebounds, Fred House 13 and Dusan Kecman 12.
Partizan was leading 6-1 after 2 minutes, but Alexander had other ideas in mind, putting in 5 points to level the score. Lottomatica's defense kept Partizan scoreless for 3 minutes and the guests managed to get a 7-8 lead from it. Only when Djuro Ostojic stepped on court did Partizan start to dominate the boards. The very same Ostojic scored to give the hosts a 13-12 lead before a shootout between Myers and Krstic took place in the final minutes of the quarter. Both players scored 8 points as Myers drilled 2 triples from downtown. Nevertheless, Brown had the final word, as his fastbreak layup gave Partizan a 25-24 lead after 10 minutes.
Marko Tusek opened the scoring in a second period in which both teams played stronger defense and therefore played quicker on offense. Partizan`s defense was impressive over the next 3 minutes, powering a 10-0 run in which 5 different Partizan players scored.Vule Avdalovic ended it with Partizan's first triple, extending the local lead to 35-26. Lotomatica was playing a small lineup but only managed to play fast, with many missed shots and turnovers. Rashard Griffith missed 3 free throws and Brown scored another triple as Partizan's lead reached double digits, 40-30, after 17 minutes. Myers answered with his own three-pointer, but Krstic and Avdalovic helped the hosts to keep a nine-point lead, 44-35, at halftime.
The third quarter began with 2 more foul shots missed by Griffith. Now Partizan had a smaller lineup on the floor and Lottomatica was back to having two big men. House and Avdalovic committed several turnovers, however, and Lottomatica soon got back in the game with a 0-9 run, including three-point plays by Griffith and Myers, to make it a one-point game, 47-46, midway through the quarter. Kecman tried to keep the visitors at bay with a triple for Partizan, but Tusek answered from downtown on the other end. Soon, Lottomatica had its first lead of the game, 50-51. Lottomatica's 2-3 zone defense made Partizan struggle on offense, where it missed a lot of long-distance shots. Lottomatica extended its lead to 53-58 with the help of a trile by Myers, before Krstic with a dunk and Kecman with a three-pointer brought Partizan within 58-60 entering the fourth.
Cal Bowdler was fouled out in the first minute of the final period, so Lottomatica with left with just one center, Griffith, who had four fouls. Still, he managed to stop Partizan centers Krstic and Ostojic. Lottomatica was loyal to its zone defense, while Partizan started to get nervous and confused in the offensive end. Griffith left the floor with his fifth foul and 2 minutes remaining, and with Lottomatica clinging to a six-point lead, 65-71, House missed 2 free throws. As such, Partizan failed to challenge the lead again as Alessandro Tonolli, Alexander, Myers and Lubos Barton sealed the win from the foul line, leaving 7,000 Partizan fans looking at the first home defeat of their team all season.
Thursday, January 22, 2004