Anderson leads Zalgiris to come-from-behind win and Top 16 ticket
James Anderson’s three-point play with 2.5 seconds left capped a late comeback as Zalgiris Kaunas edged Dinamo Banco di Sardegna Sassari 80-79 to clinch a ticket to the Top 16. Anderson starred through the game and finished with 26 points for the Lithuanian champs, who improved to 5-5 and finished third in Group A. The result dropped Sassari to 1-9 at the end of its maiden season in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague. Sassari will continue its European campaign in the Eurocup Last 32. The game had Zalgiris’s name all over it as the hosts led for nearly all of the first two and a half quarters. But after Anderson hit a three for a 60-46 lead in the third quarter, everything fell apart. The visitors went on a 4-27 charge, taking the lead on a Brian Sacchettti three early in the fourth quarter. It was 68-77 with three minutes left, but Anderson took over to lead a late charge and Sassari’s by Cheick Mbodj made only 2 of 4 free throws in the final 40 seconds to leave the door open for Anderson to win it in the end. Darius Songaila added 13 points and Lukas Lekavicius 10 for the winners. Massimo Chessa was 3 for 3 from downtown and finished with 14 points for Sassari. David Logan added 11 points and Edgar Sosa 10 in defeat. At halftime, Zalgiris hosted a special celebration for Arvydas Sabonis in honor of his 50th birthday. Euroleague Basketball President and CEO Jordi Bertomeu and Mayor of Kaunas Andrius Kupcinskas took part in the on-court ceremony and bestowed gifts on the Euroleague legend.
First quarter: Anderson’s shots, assists lead 11-0 Zalgiris run
Zalgiris got the start it wanted by winning the tip and Anderson sinking an open three-pointer. But Sassari did not flinch as Shane Lawal got a roll on a shot inside and rejected Robertas Javtokas in between threes from Logan and Miroslav Todic for a 3-8 lead. Anderson hit a deep three and Paulius Jankunas converted a basket-plus foul to put the hosts back on top. Anderson’s bounce pass on the break led to an Arturas Milaknis slam. His next assist found Milaknis for a three from the corner to complete an 11-0 run. After a Sassari timeout, Giacomo Devecchi hit a jumper, but Vaidas Kariniauskas kept the momentum with the hosts as he drove through the Sassari defense for a slam. Logan drove for a layup, but Jankunas’s three-point play made it 19-12 midway through the quarter. Jerome Dyson kept Sassari in it with a jumper, but Lukas Lekavicius hit a three and Anderson went for a wild layup and a double-digit advantage. After a Dyson layup, Songaila’s three-point lead kept Zalgiris rolling. Cheikh Mbodj’s hook shot got Sassari within 29-18.
Second quarter: Sassari gets within 7, but Zalgiris pulls away
Mbodj scored in the paint and Massimo Chessa hit a long three as the visitors looked to stay in the game. But a pair of jumpers from Songaila and Edgaras Ulanovas’s fast break slam put Zalgiris firmly in the drivers’ seat at 37-23. Edgar Sosa’s short jumper and Lawal’s two-handed jam brought Sassari within 10. Todic made it 39-31 and Lawal rejected Milaknis as the visitors drew closer. Todic split free throws. Songaila scored an easy layup after a busted play to keep the hosts in charge. Kariniauskas scored for close range and Anderson banked in a three, which he threw up thinking he was fouled. After Devecchi split free throws, Anderson and Logan traded threes to make it 49-37 at the break.
Third quarter: Sassari goes on 2-14 charge to get within 2
Songaila hit a long baseline jumper and Dyson split free throws for the first points of the second half. Logan hit a three and Lawal sank free throws, but Anderson muscled his way to the hoop for a basket in between. Lekavicius found Javtokas inside for a slam. Todic free throws made it 57-46 midway through the quarter. Anderson – again off the glass – and Chessa traded threes. After a timeout Chessa hit another three to make it 60-52. After Arturas Gudaitis missed twice from the line, Edgar Sosa connected from downtown to draw the visitors within 5. Jankunas and Gudaitis each split free throws before Chessa was fouled shooting from behind the arc and sank the resulting 3 shots to make it 62-58. Zalgiris’s free throw woes continued as Javtokas missed a pair. Mbodj’s reverse layup and blocked brought Sassari within 62-60.
Fourth quarter: Sassari builds a 9-point lead, but Anderson has the last word
Sosa tied it with a layup a minute into the quarter. Javtokas ended a 2-16 Sassari run with a hook shot, but Chessa came right back with a layup. Brian Sacchetti silenced the arena with a go-ahead three pointer and Sosa split free throws to make it 64-68. After more Zalgiris turnovers, Matteo Formenti drilled a three and a long two for a 9-point lead. Jankunas got to the line and drew the host within 66-73 with five minutes to go in regulation. Sosa went through the lane for a floater to keep Sassari ahead. Javtokas and Sacchetti traded free throws as the clock became another foe for Zalgiris. Anderson drove for a tough layup and Lekavicius hit a three to ignite the crowd at 73-77 with two minutes remaining. Anderson came through with a steal and sank free throws with 1:12 remaining to make it a one-possession game. Javtokas and Mbodj protected their rims with blocks at each end. Mbodj split free throws to put Sassari up 75-78 with 39.3 seconds on the clock. Anderson whipped a pass to Javtokas to bring the hosts within 1. Mbodj again split free throws with 7.1 seconds remaining for a 2-point lead. After a Zalgiris timeout, Anderson drove, banked in a shot and drew a foul. His free throw with 2.5 seconds left gave Zalgiris the win and a spot in the Top 16.
Friday, December 19, 2014