Real Madrid routs Zalgiris for key road win
Real Madrid started the 2013-14 Turkish Airlines Euroleague season in style by topping Zalgiris Kaunas 63-83 in Group B in front of 11,600 fans at Zalgirio Arena on Friday. Last season's Euroleague finalist dominated at both ends to register a valuable road win. The visitors forced Zalgiris into 18 first-half turnovers and scored 29 third-quarter points to seal the outcome long before the final buzzer. Nikola Mirotic paced the winners with 18 points on 3-of-4 three-point shooting. Sergio Llull added 17 on 5-of-5 two-point shooting. Rudy Fernandez tallied 11 points, 6 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 steals while Ioannis Bourousis netted 10 points for Madrid. Paulius Jankunas led Zalgiris with 15 points and 8 rebounds and Sarunas Jasikevicius added 13 points. Saras kept Zalgiris within 13-16 after 10 minutes. Llull and Fernandez shined in the second quarter to boost the guests' lead to 24-35 at halftime. Madrid showcased its best basketball throughout the third quarter as Los Blancos boosted their margin to 44-64 and never looked back.
First quarter: Madrid survives physical battle
Head coach Ilias Zouros surprised everyone by placing young talent Tomas Dimsa in Zalgiris's starting lineup to guard Rudy Fernandez. Ioannis Bourousis got Madrid going with a layup, which Paulius Jankunas matched the other end. Fernandez buried a six-meter corner jumper, as Zalgiris kept running its offense through Jankunas. He scored again and an off-balance jumper by Justin Dentmon gave Zalgiris its first lead, 6-4. Sergio Llull struck from downtown and bettered Vytenis Lipkevicius's driving layup with another three-pointer, good for an 8-10 Madrid lead. Tremmell Darden scored in the low post and Bourousis provided a highlight with a huge block of Robertas Javtokas's dunk attempt. Sarunas Jasikevicius made free throws, which Nikola Mirotic matched with a mid-range jumper. Madrid tried to change the game rhythm by bringing Sergio Rodriguez on court. Zalgiris tried a more aggressive frontcourt with Javtokas and Tadas Klimavicius together on court. Jasikevicius buried a triple, but a jump hook by Felipe Reyes gave Madrid a 13-16 lead after 10 intense minutes.
Second quarter: Visitors use defense to take off
Fernandez dunked off a steal early in the second quarter. Jankunas split free throws and a three-pointer by Rodriguez boosted Los Blancos' lead to 15-21. Zalgiris struggled to organize its offense without Jasikevicius and Marty Pocius on court. The hosts were limited to one point over more than three minutes until Tadas Klimavicius scored down low. Jaycee Carroll sank a floater in transition, however, and Rodriguez copied him right after that to force Zalgiris to call timeout at 17-25. Javtokas tried to change things with a close basket, which Marcus Slaughter erased with free throws. Madrid kept missing open three-point shots, hitting just 3 of its first 14 attempts. Even with that, a fast break layup by Rodriguez made it a double-digit game, 17-27. Zalgiris had committed 18 turnovers in less than 17 minutes. Mirotic and Carroll broke the game open, 19-33. Mirotic and Dimsa exchanged free throws and a put-back layup by Vytenis Lipekvicius caused Madrid call timeout at 22-34. A free throw by Bourousis and a jumper by Jasikevicius fixed the halftime score at 24-35.
Third quarter: Los Blancos shine at both ends
Jankunas scored around the basket immediately after the break and a three-pointer by Javtokas gave Zalgiris gave his team hope at 29-35. Mirotic quickly answered from downtown and a power layup by Bourousis gave Madrid fresh air at 29-40. Llull shined with a layup in transition and free throws by Mirotic capped a 0-9 Madrid run. Dimsa buried a three-pointer and Jankunas erased Fernandez's jumper with a layup. Llull took over with an acrobatic reverse layup and back-to-back three-pointer by Mirotic and Bourousis broke the game open, 34-54. Arturas Milaknis joined the three-point shootout off a timeout. Llull kept pacing Madrid with a fast break layup. Javtokas made free throws and Jasikevicius improved Reyes's layup with a bomb from downtown which got the crowd involved at 42-58. Fernandez silenced it with a triple and sent a no-look assist to Llull for an easy layup. Free throws by Siim-Sander Vene brought Zalgiris a bit closer, 44-64, through three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Zalgiris fights, Madrid seals the win
Madrid kept dominating at both ends as Reyes scored around the basket to make it a 22-point game. Zalgiris, pushed by an incredible crowd, never gave up. Dentmon followed free throws with a three-pointer and a close basket by Jankunas saw Madrid call timeout at 51-66. Jankunas split free throws to cap an 8-0 run before Reyes gave Madrid a 52-68 lead with six minutes left. Jankunas pushed Zalgiris with a put-back layup. Mirotic bettered him with a triple. Jasikevicius answered from downtown, but Darden scored in penetration and Madrid kept running the clock down by using long possessions. Klimavicius scored down low, Darden sank an off-balance shot and even after Dentmon scored at the other end, everything was said and done already and Madrid did not find much trouble cruising to an important road win.
Friday, October 18, 2013