Rudy Fernandez got hot in the fourth quarter of Real Madrid’s Friday night comeback road win over Zalgiris Kaunas. The reigning champs trailed for almost 33 minutes in total, having gone down by 14 points after one quarter. And despite rallying back and taking the lead, Madrid was still down by 10 points again in the third.
However, in the fourth, the champs put together a 5-26 game-deciding spurt. After Zalgiris took 71-64 lead a minute into the fourth quarter, big men Gustavo Ayon and Gabriel Deck played major roles in Madrid’s rally to tie the game at 73-73. That’s when Fernandez stepped up. In a span of just 3 minutes and 40 seconds, Fernandez hit 4 triples on as many attempts, and single-handedly decided the contest.
"Earlier in the game, he had an air ball and everybody booed," Madrid head coach Pablo Laso said at the press conference after the game before adding with a cautionary smile: "I would not do that to Rudy."
The veteran swingman was merciless in the final stanza, and finished the night making 5 triples, just one shy of his career high, on only 7 attempts.
"I think we looked for him in the right positions," Laso explained. "He was hot, but he also penetrated really good. It is not only 5 three-pointers, but also 7 assists. That means he did a lot of things, not only shooting. He was also able to contain Edgaras Ulanovas close to the basket, and rebound. I think Rudy played a great game, not only because of the threes."
The former All-EuroLeague forward is averaging 10 points per game this season, making a career-best 56% of shots from downtown. Injury problems, that even required a back surgery during the 2015-16 season, seem clearly behind him, and Fernandez looks like returning to old self. Which is great news for Real Madrid and its fans, and a bad news for just about everybody else.