Olympiacos outlasted Zalgiris 64-71
Olympiacos held off a late Zalgiris charge to pick up its first win of the Top 16, 64-71, at S. Darius and S. Girenas Sports center in Kaunas on Wednesday. The Reds led by as many as 24 points before Marty Pocius led the hosts back to within 3. However a big Vassilis Spanoulis triple and 2 clutch free throws from Milos Teodosic helped Olympiacos in the end. The Reds bounced back from last week’s defeat to take a 1-1 record in Group H, while Zalgiris dropped to 0-2. The difference in the game was ball-handling. While Olympiacos turned the ball over just 5 times, Zalgiris coughed it up 21 times, something that even its 39-29 rebounding advantage could not correct. Spanoulis paced the winners with 17 points and 4 assists, Teodosic added 13 points, Ioannis Bourousis scored 11 and Rasho Nesterovic posted 9 points and 8 rebounds. Pocius carried Zalgiris with 17 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, while Boban Marjanovic posted 12 points and 7 boards in defeat.
Mantas Kalnietis opened the scoring when he pushed the ball in transition for a layup. Bourousis got inside for the Reds’ first basket. The visitors seemed to grab momentum when Loukas Mavrokefalides got a steal, even though he missed an uncontested slam, and Teodosic pulled up for a triple. However Tomas Delininkaitis countered with a three-plus-foul and Marjanovic scored inside to keep the hosts even. Zalgiris head coach Ilias Zouros started his substitution pattern early and pulled a gem with Travis Watson coming in and scoring three times inside to make it 13-10. Aleksandar Capin continued the Zalgiris momentum with a three-point play. Bourousis got to the line on consecutive possessions, but made just 2 of 4 free throws. Yotam Halperin stripped Marcus Brown and coasted in for a layup before Spanoulis tied the game at 16-16 from the charity stripe. Mavrokefalides and Spanoulis added baskets – the latter a diving scoop in the closing seconds of the quarter – to stretch the Olympiacos charge to 12 straight points and make it 16-23 after 10 minutes.
Nesterovic’s first two baskets of the game capped the Olympiacos run at 0-16. Mindaugas Kuzminsaks’s two-handed baseline slam gave the local fans something to cheer about. Nesterovic remained a force inside and plucked a Theo Papaloukas miss and laid it in to make it 18-29. Marjanovic took a dish from Pocius and stretched for a slam and soon Pocius hit a long jumper as well, but Spanoulis shined at the other end with a three and then by weaving his way through the Zalgiris defense for a layup. Marko Keslej added a triple from the corner as the Reds’ lead reached 15. Teodosic drained a running three to increase the lead to 22-40 by halftime after the hosts were held to just 6 points in the entire second quarter.
Spanoulis and Bourousis worked the pick-and-roll perfectly to get the big man a slam on the Reds’ first possession of the second half. Teodosic followed with his third three-pointer to complete a 0-13 run that started in the second quarter. Paulius Jankunas banked in a pretty jumper only to see Teodosic drop in a layup. Kalnietis provided a highlight with a two-handed jam, but Olympiacos continued to cruise. In the meantime Watson took a seat with 4 fouls. Bourousis put the Reds up 26-50 from the free throw line. Marjanovic remained a thorn in Olympiacos’s side with an offensive rebound, slam, foul and the resulting free throw. Pocius brought the fans noise back with a three-pointer and a fastbreak layup to trim the gap to 34-52. An Olympiacos timeout failed to slow down Pocius, who went inside for a score. A Jamon Lucas jumper finally hushed the Zalgiris crowd, but it was temporary. Pocius and Delininkaitis combined for 4 free throws and then the crowd went wild when Kalnietis fed Tadas Klimavicius for an alley-oop slam that capped a 14-2 charge and brought the hosts within 11. A Zoran Erceg basket on the offensive glass made it 43-56 with 10 minutes remaining.
The momentum remained with Zalgiris early in the fourth quarter thanks to a Pocius three-pointer. Marjanovic found a loose ball under the basket and cut the gap to 8. Left wide open on the wing, Erceg punished the hosts with a long jumper. After a TV timeout, Kalnietis drained a three-pointer to make it 51-58. Watson fouled out with an offensive foul on the next possession. Lucas came back with a pull-up jumper, but Zalgiris continued to narrow the gap. Klimavicius was first to a Kalnietis miss and put it back in, making it 54-60 midway through the fourth quarter. Teodosic passed perfectly to a cutting Nesterovic as the Reds went back up by 9. Marjanovic answered and the Zalgiris defense limited the Reds, however the hosts missed twice with the chance to get within 5. Delininkaitis stepped up with a long three and then a long pass to Kalnietis to make it 61-64 with just over a minute to go. Spanoulis came to the rescue for the Reds with a clutch triple. Papaloukas fouled out for the visitors and Pocius sank a free throw to make it a 5-point game with 1:01 to play. The hosts’ defense held Olympiacos and Pocius cut the deficit to 3 with a tip-in with 33.5 seconds remaining. Teodosic was fouled quickly and he sank 2 free throws to save the Reds. Lucas stole the ball from Kalnietis, which was a dagger through the heart of Zalgiris and the visitors held on for the victory.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011