Pau-Orthez survived a double-overtime thriller to edge Zalgiris Kaunas 106-110 in Kaunas, Lithuania in one of the most exciting games in Group C so far. Pau improved to 4-3 and is in good position to advance to the Top 16 for the first time since 2004. Meanwhile, Zalgiris dropped to 1-6 and is in danger of missing the next stage for the first time since 2003. Pau registered its second overtime win of the season after it also beat Eldo Napoli 84-96 in the extra period just two weeks ago. Michael Wright led the winners with 30 points on 11-for-17 shooting and 8-of-8 free throws. Michael Bauer added 25 points on 8-for-9 shooting and 6-of-6 free throws, while Aaron Miles and Britton Johnsen each had 21 for Pau. Johnsen added 11 rebounds for a double-double. Tanoka Beard posted a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds to lead Zalgiris. Jonas Maciulis added 22 points, Marcelinho Machado and Marko Popovic each had 20 while Paulius Jankunas grabbed 10 rebounds for the hosts. Pau rallied from a 15-point deficit in the second half, as Johnsen scored around the basket to send the game to overtime, 88-88. A three-pointer by Miles and free throws by Wright took it to double overtime, 97-97. Wright and Miles combined for 11 points in the second extra period to seal a big road win for Pau in thrilling fashion!
Zalgiris started on the right foot with a triple from Machado followed by a coast-to-coast layup by Popovic. Wright then got Pau on the board, but Zalgiris continued to play up-tempo basketball and it paid-off with Jankunas's three-point play. Miles stole the ball and fed Wright on a fast break for an easy dunk , but Zalgiris offensive machine was running as Maciulis and Popovic combined for 5 quick points to put the hosts ahead 13-4. Pau coach Herbert Gordon called for timeout, after which Miles drove for two points. Both teams played a fast pace and exchanged baskets, but the visitors still struggled on the defensive end and Beard took advantage in the paint, while Maciulis pushed the Zalgiris lead to double figures with a hook. Maciulis remained hot and added one more basket off his own steal. Pau couldn’t find the antidote for Zalgiris’s half-court press as the hosts finished the first quarter with a Jankunas layup that made it 26-12.
Jankunas rejected Xane D’Almeida’s shot to start the second period before Bauer and Mantas Kalnietis exchanged triples. Kalnietis made a flashy layup, however Pau’s zone defense slowed down Zalgiris’s tempo, while Wright used his physical advantage in the paint and outplayed Beard for a basket. Johnsen gave Pau some fresh air with a difficult outside shot that reduced gap to 31-23 and caused Zalgiris head coach Rimantas Gricas to call for timeout. Johnsen remained hot, but Zalgiris answered with Beard in the paint and a triple from Macchado. Vidas Ginevicius and Popovic executed well for a layup that increased the hosts’ lead to 38-27. Pau reacted immediately with triple by Johnsen, but Maciulis made a mid-range jumper on the other side. Pau continued going to Johnsen, who added one more basket for his team, before Machado found himself open for a score. Pau tried a half-court press, but it didn’t help against Beard, who felt comfortable in the paint and made a pair of layups to extend the lead to 47-32. Bauer made both free throws and added a triple, but Popovic nailed a difficult turn-around jumper at the buzzer, putting the hosts ahead 51-37.
Pau came out strong in the second half as Miles scored a layup, but after that both teams went scoreless for two minutes until Beard hit mid-range jumper. Pau tried to paralyze the hosts’ offense with man-to-man defense, but Machado found an open Maciulis for a two-handed dunk. The visitors found their rhythm on the offensive end through Bauer with Wright, who combined for 7 straight points. Maciulis created his own shot from outside, but Pau went to Wright for a layup and triple from Miles. Pau continued to demoralize the hosts’ defense with a transition game that forced Zalgiris to call for a timeout at 62-58 with 4 minutes to go in the period. Miles used his dribbling skills to get through the hosts’ defense, but Popovic drove inside on the other end and fed Beard for a layup. Wright made a steal and converted it into easy points to bring Pau as close as 64-62. Beard made only 1-of-2 from the line, but Popovic made both, before Bauer made a shot from the high post. The last seconds of the third quarter again belonged to Popovic, who made it 69-66 after 30 minutes.
Pau opened the last quarter strong as Cedric Ferchaud hit a mid-range jumper and Bauer was fouled shooting a triple and made all three free throws to give Pau its first lead, 69-71. It was a wake up call for Zalgiris, who found Machado for an open triple. Both teams exchanged a few turnovers until Ginevicius drilled a triple to make it 75-73. Wright came fresh off the bench and tied the score, before Ginevicius stole the ball and fed Kalnietis on a fastbreak dunk. Wright was a good scoring option for the visitors and made his way through to the basket for a layup. But Zalgiris still wasn’t finished and an answer came from Popovic, who stepped up and penetrated for a basket-plus-foul, that came in and charged the crowd. Wright cooled the atmosphere with two free throws and Johnsen made it hot again with a game-tying three-pointer that fixed the score at 84-84 with a minute to go. Zalgiris turned to Beard and he made the best of it with a layup-plus-foul. Beard missed a free throw, but Jankunas tipped in to make it 88-84. It only seemed that it was over, because Pau responded with two free throws bye Miles and buzzer-beating penetration by Johnsen that made it 88-88 and sent the game to overtime
Zalgiris came on strong in overtime with a triple by Machado. Popovic added two free throws before Wright answered with basket from the paint. But Zalgiris was confident in Beard, who scored thanks to a Popovic assist. Bauer picked up his fifth foul and headed to the bench. Jankunas made only 1-of-2 free throws and Miles answered with a long-distance shot to close the gap to 96-95. Popovic made 1-of-2 free throws, and Wright didn’t miss his chance from the line at the other end to tie the score at 97-97 with 37 seconds to go. Zalgiris had a chance to grab victory, but Machado missed two mid-range jumpers and left the drama to continue in the second overtime.
Beard fouled out and Wright took advantage in the paint to score the first two baskets of the second overtime. Machado made both free throws, but Ferchaud copied him immediately to keep Pau up 99-103. Kirk Penney penetrated and made a semi-hook shot, but Miles matched him with a pull-up that made 101-105. Popovic made only 1-of-2 free throws, but Maciulis tapped one in to bring Zalgiris within one shot. However it was too late for the hosts’ comeback and Pau coasted to a clutch 106-110 road win.
Thursday, December 7, 2006