Zalgiris holds on to beat Unicaja
Zalgiris Kaunas picked up its first win of the Top 16 by downing visiting Unicaja Malaga 75-63 on Friday night. Both teams hold 1-1 record after two games played and share third place in Group E along with Panathinaikos Athens and Anodolu Efes Istanbul. Zalgiris led for most of the game, but could not build a significant lead as Unicaja lingered for the entire night. However, Ksistof Lavrinovic and Mindaugas Kuzminskas combined for a 9-2 run to start the fourth quarter, putting the hosts in control before Paulius Jankunas made a basket-plus-foul to seal the deal with less than 60 seconds to go. Kuzminskas led the way with game-high 14 points plus 6 rebounds. Ksistof Lavrinovic finished with 12, Jankunas scored 11 while Marko Popovic chipped in with 10 points in victory. For Unicaja, Early Calloway scored all 11 of his points in the first half, while Luka Zoric also had 11 points along with 6 rebounds. Zoran Dragic added 8 points in defeat.
First quarter: Teams rain three-pointers early
Jankunas hit a pair of free throws before Calloway and Ksistof Lavrinovic traded triples to start the game. Rimantas Kaukenas added a three-pointer of his own to give Zalgiris an 8-3 advantage, but Zoric made an uncontested layup and Calloway sank another triple to tie the game. Tremmell Darden scored inside as the teams picked up the pace in the opening minutes, and Darden hit a triple from the left corner for a 15-8 lead. The visitors answered with an easy layup and a shot from downtown from Zoran Dragic that got them back within a single possession. A floater by Mindaugas Kuzminskas kept Zalgiris in front before Kosta Perovic and Darjus Lavrinovic traded baskets, 21-17, and rounded out the scoring in the first 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Unicaja’s defense erases 9-point deficit
It did not take long in the second quarter for Zalgiris to double the margin. Kuzminskas and Oliver Lafayette were perfect from the foul line, and Popovic made a three-pointer on a fast break for 28-19. However Calloway hit his third three-pointer, then stole the ball and raced for an easy dunk capping a 0-7 run for 28-26. Unicaja did not allow a field goal the rest of the quarter by combining smart defensive plays from Calloway and Marcus Williams as well as profiting from some sloppy Zalgiris passing. The visitors tied the game through Krunoslav Simon, 30-30, but in the final four minutes of the quarter failed to produce a field goal themselves. On the other side, a steal from Popovic in the final second of the quarter led to a pair of free throws by the same player, giving Zalgiris a 34-30 halftime lead.
Third quarter: Zalgiris holds on to slim advantage
Fran Vazquez opened the third quarter with a long jumper, but Lafayette and Popovic hit back-to-back three-pointers for 40-32. Unicaja replied with a 1-10 run, started with a dunk by Zoric and a triple from Sergi Vidal, before Vazquez hit another long jump shot and finally Simon sank a three-pointer, 41-42. Darjus Lavrinovic scored inside, quickly restoring Zalgiris’s lead before Dragic’s basket-plus-foul tied it at 45-45. The hosts remained in front by going 5 for 6 from the foul line, and Kuzminskas scored inside for a 5-point lead, but Vazquez made a tip-in in the dying seconds of the quarter for a 52-51 edge going into the final 10 minutes.
Fourth quarter: Zalgiris pulls away for win
Ksistof Lavrinovic opened the fourth quarter with a three and Kuzminskas’s put-back restored a 6-point Zalgiris lead before teams went into a two-minute offensive slump despite racing from one end of the floor to another. Txemi Urtasun made a runner to end the scoring drought, but again Kuzminskas and Lavrinovic extended the lead to 61-53. A dunk by Zoric after a lovely pass from Calloway gave Unicaja hope, but couple of layups from Lafayette extended the lead into double figures, 67-56. Williams hit a three-pointer on the other side, helping Unicaja cut it to 67-61, however, Jankunas made basket-plus-foul to seal the deal. Jankunas then and added a triple and a blocked shot in the final seconds before Kaukenas hit a buzzer-beating jump shot to account for the final score.
Friday, January 4, 2013