Real Madrid defeated Efes Pilsen 77-70
Real Madrid got off to a strong start in Top 16 Group F by downing Efes Pilsen 77-70 in the Spanish capital on Wednesday. Madrid stayed undefeated at home this season and registered its fourth consecutive victory. Efes, on the other hand, has lost four of its last five games. Louis Bullock led the winners with 12 points and Rimantas Kaukenas and Darjus Lavrinovic each added 11 for Madrid. Charles Smith led Efes with 18 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 5 steals against his former team. Bootsy Thornton added 14 points for Efes, including a three-pointer that gave his team its biggest lead, 13-22. Sergio Llull, Lavrinovic and Kaukenas helped Madrid to get within 30-33 at halftime. Free throws by Jorge Garbajosa completed Madrid's comeback, 46-44, midway through the second quarter. Back-to-back triples by Smith and an outstanding Thornton allowed Efes to get its last lead, 64-65. Marko Jaric became the game hero with the opening 7 points in a 10-2 run that Llull capped with a layup-plus-foul, good for a 74-67 Madrid edge with less than two minutes to go, enough to seal the outcome.
Efes Pilsen opted for a big starting lineup with Kaya Peker and Mario Kasun together on court. Lavrinovic got Madrid going with a five-meter baseline jumper, as the hosts ran their defense through Pablo Prigioni, who prevented Ender Arslan from circulating the ball. Efes tried to get Thornton and Smith involved and a big triple by Arslan gave the guests a 2-4 edge. Novica Velickovic shined with a jump hook that Peker matched at the other end. Smith buried a corner three-pointer to make Madrid call a much-needed timeout at 4-9. Jaric stepped up with a jumper, as Efes tried to feed Peker against Velickovic down low. Madrid improved its defense and tried to add more firepower with Bullock and Llull on court. Velickovic scored in the paint, but Kasun took over with a reverse layup. Thornton made free throws and Peker scored again to make it 8-15. Bullock rescued the hosts with his trademark three-pointer and a jumper by Felipe Reyes kept Madrid within 13-15. Smith shined with a driving layup and a put-back basket by Peker gave Efes some fresh air, 13-19, at the end of the first quarter.
The guests continued to play inside with Peker and Ermal Kuqo together on court. Madrid struggled against the guests' 2-3 zone defense and went scoreless for more than two minutes. Efes kept trying to slow down the game tempo and Thornton beat the shot clock with a seven-meter bomb, good for a 13-22 lead. Bullock shined with a driving layup that Kuqo matched with a jump hook. Lavrinovic shined with a put-back layup and soon added a six-meter jumper to bring Madrid back to life, 19-24. Efes had started to miss open shots and a coast-to-coast layup by Prigioni made coach Ergin Ataman call timeout at 21-24. Efes changed its game plan, placing Daniel Santiago at center and opening the court with Preston Shumpert at power forward. Kerem Tunceri and Shumpert struck from downtown, but Madrid had found the way to beat Efes' zone defense. Llull sank a triple and Lavrinovic banked in a jumper to bring the hosts within 26-30. Madrid tried twin point guards with Prigioni and Llull on court to improve its defense against Igor Rakocevic. Shumpert and Kaukenas exchanged three-pointers before Lavrinovic brought Madrid within 30-33 at halftime.
Thornton sank a six-meter jumper immediately after the break and Kasun added a high-flying dunk for a 32-37 Efes lead. Prigioni buried a three-pointer and Bullock nailed a stop-and-pop jumper but Efes kept finding Kasun down low. He scored twice in the paint but a red hot Bullock answered from downtown for a 40-41 Madrid deficit. Smith sank his trademark triple from the right wing but back-to-back jumpers by Garbajosa tied it at 44-44. Lavrinovic managed to stop Kasun in the low post and Efes struggled to find open shots now. Efes tried to find new options in the low post with Kuqo back on the floor but free throws by Garbajosa allowed Madrid to get its first lead since the opening basket, 46-44. Bojan Popovic and Reyes traded foul shots, as Madrid played much more aggressive now at bnoth ends. Smith shined with an acrobatic basket and Thornton added free throws to get Efes back ahead, 48-49. Kaukenas scored in penetration and soon added free throws to force Efes to call timeout at 52-49. Thornton and Kaukenas exchanged free throws and Kuqo took over with a put-back layup t okeep Efes as close as 54-53. A mid-range jumper by Reyes fixed the score at 56-53 after 30 minutes.
Velickovic shined with a backdoor layup early in the fourth quarter, as Efes once again tried Shumpert at power forward. Kuqo kept pacing Efes with a power basket that Kaukenas matched with an outstanding driving layup. Smith stepped up in crunch time with back-to-back three-pointer and a big block on Llull, making Madrid call timeout at 60-61 with seven minutes left. Lavrinovic scored down low and Efes switched from man-to-man to a 2-3 zone defense and back after each basket. Smith dunked it off a midcourt steal that Prigioni erased with a floating layup. Thornton shined with an acrobatic jumper but Jaric answered from downtown for a 67-65 Madrid lead. A fast break dunk by Shumpert tied the game again, 67-67, with four minutes left. Jaric sank a rainbow jumper, as Efes struggled to get Smith and Shumpert involved in crunch time. Jaric stayed on fire with free throws, as Madrid dominated the game with outstanding defense. A three-point play by Llull sealed the outcome, 74-67, with less than two minutes left. Efes kept trying, but it was already too little, too late for the guests, as the Madrid fans were already celebrating an important home win.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010