Causeur shines as Madrid clinches home-court advantage
Real Madrid cruised to a 75-100 victory over Khimki Moscow Region on Thursday at Arena Mytishchi to clinch home-court advantage for the playoffs and remain in the hunt for the top spot overall.
Madrid improved to 20-6 and is one win behind first-placed Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul. Fabien Causeur was the hero with a season-high 22 points on 4-of-5 three-point shooting. Rudy Fernandez added 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting from downtown, Gabriel Deck added 12 points and Trey Thompkins 10. Walter Tavares collected 11 rebounds as Madrid dominated the glass 24-48. Alexey Shved paced Khimki with 21 points, but his 2 assists marked a season-low. Malcolm Thomas netted 15 points and Stefan Markovic had 13 as Khimki lost its fourth straight game to fall to 9-17.
Three-pointers were the shots of choice for both teams early with a Malcolm Thomas triple giving the hosts an 8-7 edge. Jaycee Carroll heated up to put Madrid briefly up by 4. Sergio Llull and Shved traded threes to make it 15-14 before the TV timeout. Fernandez connected from downtown to lift the visitors to a 22-24 edge after 10 minutes and then banked in a second three to start the second quarter. Madrid continued to fire away from outside with Causeur hitting twice to make it 29-36. Gustavo Ayon scored on three straight Madrid possessions, which set up Facu Camapazzo to give the visitors the game's first double-digit margin, 33-43 when he split free throws. Thomas helped Khimki halve the deficit, but Camapzzo finished the half strong and his buzzer-beater gave Madrid 8 unanswered points and a 38-51 advantage at the break. Vyacheslav Zaytsev ignited the Khimki fans with a dunk over the league's leading shot blocker, Walter Tavares. However, Llull heated up to keep Madrid in control at 45-58. Shved lowered the difference to 8 only to see Causeur score 8 in a 0-12 roll that extended the Madrid lead to 50-70 at the end of the third quarter. The visitors added on the first 5 points of the fourth quarter before Tony Crocker ended the Khimki drought with a triple. The hosts never quit and cut into the Madrid lead, but the outcome was never in doubt. The Madrid lead peaked at 70-96 on a Thompkins three as the visitors claimed another win.
Khimki trailed by 5 with 2 minutes remaining in the second quarter and the game seemed to be anything but over, however, Madrid finished the half with 8 unanswered points to lead 38-51 at halftime and Khimki never seriously threatened again. Gabriel Deck came in fresh off the bench to score the first 4 points before Facundo Campazzo scored 4 points in the final 8 seconds of the half – first sinking a pair of free throws and then beating the halftime buzzer for a layup.
Madrid outshot Khimki from every distance and dominated the rebounds, which is a great recipe for victory. Madrid made 18 of 31 two-pointers (58.1%) and 14 of 29 threes (48.3%). Khimki was 16 of 38 (42.1%) inside the arc and 9 of 28 (32.1%) from downtown. Madrid took 48 rebounds, while Khimki settled for 24. Madrid also racked up 26 assists, which were 12 more than Khimki.
Did you notice?
Sergio Llull and Rudy Fernandez continued their climbs up the all-time three-point shooting charts. With 2 triples, Llull leapfrogged Gianluca Basile for fourth place with 422 career threes. Olympiacos Piraeus star Vassilis Spanoulis is third with 450 and counting. Fernandez's 5 threes on the night took him past Jaka Lakovic for sixth place with 384.
Both teams will be in action again on Wednesday, March 20. Madrid has a home date with AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan, while Khimki travels to face Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul.