Using its trademark defensive intensity to best effect, CSKA stormed back from double-digit deficits on the road to defeat Zalgiris 59-78 in Kaunas, Lithuania on Thursday and hold onto at least second place in Group C. CSKA raised its record to 4-1 while waiting for the result of previously undefeated Winterthur Barcelona. Meanwhile, Zalgiris fell into a danger zone at 1-4. CSKA held Zalgiris to just 25 points after halftime to steadily pull away to an easy victory. Matjaz Smodis and Trajan Langdon paced the winners with 15 points each, while Theo Papaloukas added 13, J.R. Holden and David Vanterpool 10 each. Zalgiris, which had led 30-20 midway through the second quarter, got 12 points from Marko Popovic and 10 from Hanno Mottola. Tanoka Beards collected 12 rebounds for the hosts.
CSKA got on the scoreboard first as Vanterpool dropped 2 free throws. Popovic answered with a nice penetration but Langdon landed a triple to increase the visitors' lead to 2-5. Vanterpool went to the bench after his second personal foul in as many minutes. Both teams exchanged turnovers and missed shots before Popovic broke the silence with a mid-range jumper that put Zalgiris in front, 7-5, midway through the quarter. Langdon and Beard exchanged jumpers then, while Smodis and Kirk Penney did the same with triples and Zalgiris stayed ahead 12-10. CSKA's normally stingy defense let Popovic and Mottola hit open shots that lifted the Zalgiris edge to 17-12. Despite Smodis scoring 4 points in a row to close the quarter, the hosts still held a 19-14 advantage after 10 minutes.
Vidas Ginevicius got the second quarter going with a corner triple for Zalgiris, but Vanterpool returned to score a basket-plus-free throw that kept CSKA within 22-17. Machado made both his free throws to just 1 of 2 for Vanterpool before Zalgiris got hot going to Beard. First he took an offensive rebound and sank a jumper, then he finished a nice pick-'n'-roll with Machado that provided the first double-digit lead for the hosts, 28-18. David Andersen stepped up for CSKA with a mid-range jumper but Beard kept at it for Zalgiris, grabbing and putting back a difficult offensive rebound to make it 30-20. CSKA's defense intensified but its offense kept turning over the ball. The visitors proved patient, however, and soon Papaloukas, Smodis, Aleksey Savrasenko and Langdon reeled off a 2-10 run that vaulted CSKA back into the lead at 32-33. Beard hit twice from the line but the finish belonged to CSKA as Papaoulas dished to Savrasenko for a layup that left a 34-35 halftime score.
Both teams went scoreless through 90 seconds of the third quarter, until Machado dropped a triple to put Zalgiris in front again, 37-35. Savrasenko would tie it again for CSKA, but Ginevicius buried on more from behind the arc and Mottola added a free throw as the hosts went up 41-37. Then CSKA turned up the heat, pressuring Popovic into a turnover that sent Papaloukas on a fastbreak to tie 41-41. Zalgiris looked tired and a timeout didn't help as Andersen canned free throws and Smodis put back an offensive rebound to make it 41-45. Jonas Maciulis slowed CSKA's march momentarily with a long-range jumper and a driving layup before Holden reminded everyone he was there with a triple. And Zalgiris fans certainly won't forget how he soon silenced them by beating the shot clock with another strike from the arc before Mottola and Vanterpool traded layups and the third quarter ended with the visitors in charge, 50-55.
CSKA finished the game right at the beginning of the last quarter as Holden scored on a fade-away jumper and Smodis completed a three-point-play to boost the lead even higher, to 50-60. Zalgiris seemed to have waisted all its bullets on offense, but CSKA didn't sleep on that supposition. Savrasenko dunked on a fastbreak and Papaloukas made a layup to bury the intrigue of the game with the score fixed at 50-64 midway through the last quarter. Langdon hit another bomb from outside and Holden penetrated to widen the gap to 51-69 as CSKA defense proved relentless to the end of a dominant road win.
Thursday, November 23, 2006