Panathinaikos crushed Zalgiris 92-75
Panathinaikos remained undefeated in Group B with a strong second half to beat Zalgiris Kaunas 92-75 at OAKA on Friday night in the last game of Week 3. Reigning Euroleague MVP Dimitris Diamantidis scored 16 points to pace the winners. The visitors, who played their first game under new head coach Aleksandar Trifunovic, played well early and led 38-42 at halftime. But Diamantidis opened the second half with a pair of three-pointers and later Kostas Kaimakoglou nailed a triple to make it 64-55 at the end of the third quarter. Steven Smith starred in a 10-0 fourth-quarter run that wrapped up the game. Mike Batiste added 14 points, Ian Vougioukas and David Logan scored 13 apiece – all off the bench – and Nick Calathes delivered 7 points and 7 assists for the champs. Sonny Weems paced Zalgiris with 21 points, Ty Lawson scored 14 and Milovan Rakovic 12 for the Lithuanian champs, who dropped to 0-3.
Diamantidis spotted an opening and darted inside for the game’s first points. Marko Popovic answered with a basket-plus-foul before Mantas Kalnietis soared for a slam to make it 2-5. Diamantidis soon tied the game with a triple and Nick Calathes came through with a steal and layup for a 9-7 lead. A second foul for Zalgiris’s leading scorer, Weems, after just three-and-a-half minutes was cause for concern, but Trifunovic stayed in and finished a fast break with a slam. Instead Panathinaikos center took a seat with 3 fouls, but Mike Batiste came off the bench and dunked on his first touch. The lead traded hands on a Weems triple followed by Batiste free throws. Sarunas Jasikevicius sank a rainbow jumper and was fouled to push the Greens ahead 17-12. Rakovic provided a low post presence for the visitors, but Panathinaikos overpowered inside with Kostas Tsartsaris free throws and Vougioukas to go ahead by 7, but a Lawson three left Zalgiris within 25-21 after one quarter.
Lawson drained a second three and then dished to Rakovic inside as the visitors regained the lead. A Rakovic steal led to a Mindaugas Kuzminskas fast break slam to cap a 0-10 charge before the hosts called a timeout. Vougioukas ended the drought with a hook shot and Logan came fresh off the bench to even the score at 30-30. Diamantidis made a pretty feed to Vougioukas and Panathinaikos led again. Zalgiris went ahead again after a Kalnietis triple. Weems pulled up on the break for a jumper to push the lead to 34-37. Logan got into the paint at the other end for a score and before long Kaimakoglou’s first basket lifted the Greens to a 38-37 edge, but Zalgiris had the final say as a Weems triple from the right corner lifted the Lithuanian champs to a 38-42 halftime advantage.
Diamantidis heated up his hands at halftime and knocked down a pair of triples – the second from a good meter behind the line – in the first few minutes of the half as the Greens pulled ahead. A slick move by Marko Popovic for a pull-up three put Zalgiris on top and signaled that the visitors were ready to fight till the finish. But Panathinaikos got baskets from Romain Sato and Logan in the open court to jump to 50-45. And then a Diamantidis triple made it a 9-0 run and got the OAKA faithful singing. Zalgiris struck back quickly with a Tomas Delininkaitis three followed by Lawson hitting 2 from the line after getting fouled shooting a three-pointer to get within 53-50. Baskets by Sato and Vougioukas kept the Greens in control. Calathes converted a daring layup and Lawson did the same at the other end before a Kaimakoglou three lifted the hosts to their biggest lead yet, 64-55 at the end of the third quarter.
Vougioukas from the line gave Panathinaikos its first double-digit lead of the night. Weems started to get more involved with a layup and a triple only to see Logan stand up on both ends of the court with a steal and a three-pointer to make it 71-60. Rakovic’s night ended early when he fouled out with seven minutes remaining. He was then assessed a technical foul and after a Sato free throw and a Vougioukas slam, the hosts led by 12. Steven Smith knocked down a triple from the elbow to send a knockout blow to Zalgiris. Smith soon completed a 10-0 run to take the lead to 81-62. Tadas Klimavicius free throws and a fantastic Lawson-to-Weems alley-oop-plus-foul showed that Zalgiris had not given up, but time was quickly running out. Diamantidis came back in and soonafter a Logan triple confirmed the outcome.
Friday, November 4, 2011