Real Madrid took the big showdown atop the Group D standings by downing Khimki Moscow Region 70-59 in the Spanish capital on Wednesday night. Madrid improved to 5-1 and secured at least a share of first place in Group D. Meanwhile, Khimki dropped to 4-2 and faces a pivotal home game against Euroleague defending champion Panathinaikos next week. Jorge Garbajosa led the winners with 13 points. Pablo Prigioni added 11 and 7 assists while Novica Velickovic and Darjus Lavrinovic each had 10 for Madrid. Robertas Javtokas led Khimki with 17 points and 9 rebounds. Keith Langford added 11 points for the guests. There was an electric atmosphere in Madrid one day before the 20th anniversary of Fernando Martin's tragic death. Martin was one of the best big men in European basketball history and the first Spanish player to join a NBA team. He passed away at age 27 on December 3, 1989 in a car accident, and was remembered with posters and jerseys at Palacio Vistalegre tonight. Madrid led for the best part of the game and kept a 50-43 edge after 30 minutes. Garbajosa sank consecutive baseline jumpers in the final minutes to seal the outcome and rounded his big game with a three-pointer to make Madrid round an important win in style.
Madrid used a tall starting lineup with Velickovic at small forward and a recovered Felipe Reyes at center. Meanwhile, Khimki tried to control the game tempo
with Raul Lopez replacing Carlos Cabezas in its starting five. Javtokas got Khimki going with a jump hook and Lopez added a driving layup for a 0-4 lead. Madrid went scoreless for more than 2 minutes until Louis Bullock sank a triple. Kelly McCarty and Velickovic traded layups in transition and Langford banked in a turnaround shot for a 5-8 score. Javtokas scored off a pick-and-roll in the high post to make Madrid call timeout at 5-10. Madrid kept struggling to score and tried to add more fire power with Travis Hansen and Lavrinovic on court now. Lavrinovic shined with a second-chance basket and soon split free throws for a 8-10 Madrid deficit. Vitaliy Fridzon nailed his trademark corner three-pointer but Lavrinovic scored again and Velickovic added a power layup to get the hosts within 12-13 after 10 minutes.
Sergio Llull struck from downtown early in the second quarter but a layup by Timofey Mozgov quickly tied it at 15-15. Cabezas sank free throws, as Madrid tried a more defensive lineup with Sergi Vidal and Hansen at both wings. Vidal took over with a driving layup that Langford matched with an uncontested dunk. Prigioni buried a seven-meter bomb and soon added free throws to give Madrid some fresh air at 22-19. McCarty sank free throws but back-to-back acrobatic layups by Reyes and Prigioni boosted Madrid's lead to 27-21, after a 10-2 run. Paulius Jankunas silenced the crowd with a bonb from downtown but Garbajosa took over with a running jumper. Khimki kept trying to open the court with Jankunas and Javtokas away from the basket but Madrid excelled in defense now. Garbajosa took over with a driving basket but Langford beat the buzzer with a three-pointer off the dribble to bring Khimki within 31-28 at halftime.
Velickovic scored off a midcourt steal immediately after the break while Hansen buried a corner three-pointer to give Madrid a 35-28 lead. Javtokas scored in
the paint that Lavrinovic bettered that with a big triple. Velickovic added free throws in a 8-0 run that Hansen capped with a triple - exactly from the same
spot - to make Khimki call timeout at 43-30. Jankunas tried to change things with a put-back layup but Khimki and Javtokas scored down low but another triple
by Hansen kept the hosts way ahead, 46-35. Javtokas and Langford kept pacing Khimki with free throws but a floating jumper by Reyes gave Madrid some fresh
air at 48-40. Despite having entered the foul bonus, Madrid kept great intensity in defense. Bullock made free throws that Mozgov erased with an off-balance
jump hook. A left-handed driving layup by Cabezas allowed Khimki to keep all chances open, 50-45, after 30 minutes.
Garbajosa sank free throws early in the fourth quarter and Prigioni added a driving layup to keep Madrid out of trouble at 54-45. Khimki called a much-needed timeout and tried to open the court with Fedor Dmitriev at power forward. Fridzon sank free throws and Langford downed a three-pointer to give the guests some hope at 58-50. Madrid now used twin point guards with Llull and Prigioni together on court. Lavrinovic beat the shot clock with a jump hook, as Khimki kept struggling to score against the hosts' perfectly adjusted man-to-man defense. Javtokas hit a jump hook that Garbajosa matched with a baseline jumper. McCarty downed a corner triple for a 62-55 Khimki deficit with more than 3 minutes left. Llull buried a three-pointer but Javtokas rescued the guests with a second-chance layup and Fridzon scored in transition for a 65-59 score with 1:52 to go. A four-meter jumper by Garbajosa sealed the outcome, 67-59, with a minute left, allowing all Madrid fans to celebrate a critical win in the race to win Group D.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009