Pangos leads Zalgiris past Olympiacos for fifth straight win
Zalgiris Kaunas made a statement on Thursday night by edging visiting Olympiacos Piraeus 74-68 for its fifth consecutive win. Zalgiris improved to 10-5 on the season for to secure at least fourth place in the standings at the midway point in the regular season. Olympiacos dropped to 11-4. In a hard-fought game, neither team held a lead bigger than 7 points the entire night, and such a 7-point margin belonged to Zalgiris in the fourth quarter after an 11-2 run that put the hosts up for good. Kevin Pangos, who was clutch in the final minutes, finished with 14 points and 7 assists. Arturas Milaknis also netted 14 points, Paulius Jankunas scored 12, and Vasilije Micic added 11 in victory. Ioannis Papapetrou led the visitors in scoring with 12 points. Kostas Papanikolaou had 11 points, Hollis Thompson collected 10 points and 8 rebounds, while Vassilis Spanoulis tallied 10 points and 7 assists for Olympiacos, which was without Georgios Printezis, Nikola Milutinov and Vangelis Mantzaris.
Olympiacos converted on five of its first six possessions, with Spanoulis dishing nifty passes to Georgios Bogris and Papappetrou inside before Brian Roberts and Spanoulis hit from outside to make it 7-12. But Milaknis nailed a pair of three-pointers and Micic, Jankunas and Antanas Kavaliauskas took it to the hoop, helping the hosts take a 22-19 advantage after 10 minutes. Pangos hit a three-pointer to open the second quarter, but a three-point play from Jamel McLean and a triple from Janis Strelnieks in a 0-8 run put Olympiacos in front 25-27. The teams traded buckets until Thompson’s triple gave the visitors a 31-35 advantage. Kavaliauskas and Pangos found their way to score inside, but the Reds kept the lead and want into halftime up 36-38.
Jankunas opened the second half with a pair of jumpers, and after Milaknis and Papanikolaou traded three-pointers, Milaknis hit another one, his fourth, to put Zalgiris in front 48-44. However, it was Olympiacos’s turn to make a run, as Papapetrou answered with a second-chance three and Papanikolaou added his second shot from downtown in a short span, making it 48-53 at the end of third quarter. In the fourth, it was Jankunas sinking back-to-back jumpers from the identical spot on the right baseline, and Edgaras Ulanovas had a dunk to put Zalgiris back in front 54-53. Spanoulis and Pangos traded three-pointers, and after a long jumper by Papapetrou, Ulanovas and Pangos each nailed a three-pointer to make it 65-58 midway through the fourth for the biggest lead of the night. Strelnieks answered with a jumper-plus-foul, and after Micic and Thompson traded triples, Papapetrou’s layup with 66 seconds to go cut the margin to 69-66. On the ensuing possession, Pangos connected with Aaron White for an alley-oop dunk, and after Spanoulis made 2 free throws, White’s put-back dunk with 14 seconds remaining sealed the outcome and sent the Zalgiris crowd into a frenzy.
Thursday, December 28, 2017