Lietuvos Rytas kept Entente Orleanaise winless with a 62-69 road win on Thursday evening at the Zenith Arena in Orleans, France. Last year’s Eurocup champ is now tied with Unicaja for first place in Group B with 2-0 records and will host Efes Pilsen next week. Orleans made its home debut before a packed crowd, but L. Rytas applied suffocating defense from the opening tip and took the Orleans fans out of the game till the last quarter. L. Rytas showed great poise, especially from its floor general, Bojan Popovic, by knowing how to respond to every Orleans attempt to get back into the contest. L. Rytas broke the game open on a 4-22 run that stretched over the closing minutes of the first quarter and the beginning of the second, and then Popovic ensured the victory by dominating the third quarter. Orleans never gave up however, and fought to the very end, but could not overcome the lead L. Rytas had build in the first half.
Martynas Gecevicius nailed a three-pointer to draw first blood for L. Rytas and Aron Baynes added two in the paint for a 2-5 lead. Adrien Moerman made a jumper for Orleans, but Gecevicius answered with another triple. L. Rytas did not let the home side get into any offensive flow early, but it could not take advantage on the offensive end and the scoreboard was stuck at 4-8 till Anthony Dobbins hit an athletic layup at the five-minute mark in the first period. Orleans went ahead 9-8 on a three-pointer by Justin Doellman, but Arturas Jomantas quickly responded with a three of his own and moments later Gecevicius struck again from downtown to make it 9-14. Doellman converted a steal at halfcourt into a breakaway slam. But with L. Rytas in the bonus, Jomantas got 2 easy points from the foul line and Dejan Borovnjak added another. Steponas Babrauskas hit a three as time expired to send L. Rytas into the second period with an 11-20 lead.
Baynes started the second quarter with 2 free throws to open a double-digit advantage for L. Rytas. Head coach Philippe Herve called for time after Borovnjak scored easily as L. Rytas beat Orleans down the court after another empty trip. But the visitors could not be stopped, and Baynes silenced the crowd when he received the ball at the top of the key and drove hard to the basket for a spectacular dunk. L. Rytas kept extending its lead as Jomantas hit a jumper off an offensive board, 13-30. Banks breathed some life back into Orleans by finally making his team’s first field goal of the quarter on a three from the corner. Seconds later Austin Nichols drained another triple, and Ludovic Vaty then scored from inside to get the lead under 10. But Bojan Popovic cut the Orleans run with 2 free throws and then added a three-pointer from the corner. Nichols scored again off some nice ball movement, and Moerman flipped in another layup off a quick counter attack following a steal. Doellman scored twice in the paint in the closing moments of the second, but L. Rytas still held a commanding 29-41 lead.
Nichols scored a quick 4 points to cut the lead down to 8 in the opening moments of the third period. Gecevicius got back in the action with his fourth three-pointer, but Doellman answered with a shot of his own from behind the arc. That was when Popovic took over, first by threading a great pass to Milko Bjelica for an easy layup, and then by drilling a triple the next time down the court, 36-49. The Popovic-Bjelica connection worked for yet another easy layup for the big man, and moments later the L. Rytas point guard, tasting the victory, swished a long three-pointer to make it 39-54. Banks hit back-to-back three-pointers to keep Orleans in striking distance, 46-58, with Popovic on the bench. After a timeout, Borovnjak worked for 2 points in the post, and L. Rytas went into the final period ahead 46-61.
Doelmann fed Ryvon Covile for two to begin the fourth quarter, forcing L. Rytas to call for time to talk things over. Covile scored a two-plus-one out of the stoppage of play to again get the lead down to 10. L. Rytas could not make a bucket, and Doelmann managed to get a wild jump shot to rattle in. Jomantas finally stepped up for L. Rytas and hit a jumper in the lane. Both squads went cold with the score at 53-63 and time running out for Orleans. Banks drove and his layup bounced in, but Popovic found Bjelica under the basket for the close bank shot. L. Rytas missed shot after shot, but they managed to collect the offensive rebounds after offensive rebounds and milked the clock. Covile scored in transition to get the score to 58-65. Orleans came up with some big tops, Nicholls made 2 free throws and Banks added 2 more to get to 62-66 with 24 seconds to play. Orleans put Blejica on the line where he made 1 of 2, but when Covile missed 2 free throws with 11 seconds left it was over.
Thursday, October 29, 2009