Lietuvos Rytas put on a show for its fans as it pounded Partizan Belgrade 78-56 in a Group B contest at Siemens Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania. Martynas Gecevicus scored 19 to lead five L. Rytas scorers in double figures as the Lithuanian champs improved to 3-1. L. Rytas travels to Spain in Week 5 for a showdown with undefeated Group B leader Unicaja for first place. Partizan slipped to 1-3 ahead of a home contest against Olympiacos. L. Rytas surged ahead early as Donatas Zavackas sank 3 three-pointers in the first quarter. Bo McCalebb and Lawrence McCalebb sparker a late second-quarter Partizan run to trim the gap to 44-39 at halftime, but Aron Baynes led a 10-0 start to the second half as the hosts pulled away for good, seeing their lead peak at 25 in the fourth quarter. Zavackas finished with 13 points on 4-for-4 three-point shooting, Baynes and Milko Bjelica netted 12 apiece and Bojan Popovic scored 10 with 5 assists. Aleks Maric posted 16 points and 10 rebounds and McCalebb scored 16 in defeat.
The hosts won the opening tip and went to Baynes, who drew a foul and scored the game’s first point from the line. Maric countered at the other end with the game’s first basket. Jan Vesely and Baynes traded baskets in the paint before Zavackas drilled a three-pointer. Maric scored a second-chance basket to tie the game at 6-6. Zavackas drilled a second three, but Maric continued his strong start with a basket-plus-foul. A basket by Baynes in the paint and a three-point play by Arturas Jomantas on a fast break gave L. Rytas the upper hand and after Zavackas drilled another three, Partizan took a timeout trailing 16-9. Roberts fed Maric inside for another basket, then found McCalebb for a triple and finished a fast break himself, but L. Rytas had a fresh Bjelica off the bench who scored twice, including with a pretty spin move. Roberts powered his way to the basket and later added a free throw to get Partizan within 26-22 after 10 minutes.
Gecevicus hit a jumper with his foot on the three-point line and then stepped back and buried a triple a minute later as the L. Rytas lead reached 9. Maric blocked Baynes at one end and McCalebb drilled a three at the other as the visitors looked to gain some momentum. Popovic and Gecevicius both sank free throws that took the lead to double figures. Baynes further stretched the lead with a basket inside. Zavackas took a seat after a hard foul on Slavko Vranes – his third foul. After Vranes sank the free throws, Popovic darted through the Partizan defense to make it 40-29. McCalebb went to work with a runner and 2 free throws on successive possessions and Aleksandar Rasic fed Maric on a pick-and-roll as the deficit started to shrink. Dusan Kecman capped an 8-0 run with 2 free throws to get Partizan within 3. Bjelica ended the L. Rytas dry spell with a basket inside. Vranes grabbed an offensive rebound for a slam, but Bjelica twisted for a bucket in the final seconds to make it 44-39 at the break.
Baynes took passes from Gecevicus and Popovic for a pair of two-handed slams as L. Rytas quickly re-established a 10-point lead at the start of the second half. Gecevicus added a jumper and then Popovic rifled in a three from the top of the key to cap a 10-0 charge and make it 54-39. Maric ended a three-and-a-half minute Partizan scoring drought with a free throw, but Zavackas fired in a three, Vesely displayed his athleticism with a slam and soon an opportunity opened up for the visitors as both Baynes and Zavackas sat with their fourth fouls. Maric took advantage with a slam on the offensive glass, but Popovic was open underneath to keep L. Rytas ahead 61-44. Neither team could get a ball in the net for the next few minutes, but that was five with the hosts, who sat on a comfortable lead. With 45 seconds left in the quarter, Gecevicus drilled a step-back three and then Bjelica scored inside to put L. Rytas up 22. McCalebb sank 2 free throws in the closing seconds to make it 66-46 at the end of the quarter.
McCalebb made a layup early in the fourth quarter, but Dejan Borovnjak matched him with a jumper. The action lacked any real intensity as the outcome looked obvious. A Gecevicius jumper saw the L. Rytas lead peak at 73-48. The delighted fans in Vilnius began doing the wave in the final minutes. McCalebb intercepted a pass and took it in for a layup. Promising teenager Aleksandar Mitrovic scored his first Euroleague point from the line as the teams played out the closing minutes without incident.
Thursday, November 12, 2009