Zalgiris Kaunas goes out in style
In the season finale for both teams, Zalgiris Kaunas downed Brose Baskets Bamberg 90-81 in Zalgirio Arena on Thursday. Zalgiris finished the Top 16 with 6-8 record and in the sixth place of Group E, while Bamberg lost all 14 games and will have to wait another year for its first-ever Top 16 victory. Zalgiris led for most of the night, but did not manage to pull away to a double-digit lead until starting the fourth quarter when Darjus and Ksistof Lavrinovic scored 6 points in a 9-1 run to make it 75-64. The visitors never managed to come closer than 6 points the rest of the way. Ksistof Lavrinovic led in victory with 20 points and 8 rebounds and Mindaugas Kuzminkas collected 13 points plus 9 rebounds. Marko Popovic added 12 points and 6 assists, while Rimantas Kaukenas also scored 12 for Zalgiris. Anton Gavel netted 20 for the visitors, Bostjan Nachbar and Casey Jacobsen scored 14 apiece, with Jacobsen making 4 of 5 threes. A.J. Ogilvy followed with 13 points and Sharrod Ford had 10 points plus 7 rebounds in defeat.
First quarter: Close scores tell of excitement to come
Ksistof Lavrinovic started things with a layup before Philipp Neumann threw down a big dunk at the other end. Zalgiris stayed ahead with a jumper from Kaukenas and a layup from Robertas Javtokas, before back-to-back triples from Jacobsen gave Bamberg brief 8-10 lead. But a baseline dunk from Kuzminkas, followed with a basket-plus-foul and a triple from Ksistof Lavrinovic, put Zalgiris in front 18-12. Bamberg answered through Nachbar who hit a long jumper and then dunked, before a three-pointer from Gavel cut it to 20-19. Ogilvy’s one-handed slam and Gavel’s awkward runner helped the visitors regain the lead, but Marko Popovic sank 4 free throws, making it 26-25 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Zalgiris takes control with four triples in a row
Popovic assisted Vytenis Lipkevicius and Adas Juskevicius for layups to start the second quarter, opening up a 32-25 lead. Ford’s layup and a put-back dunk, followed with Jacobsen’s third triple tied the game. After Kuzminskas and Neumann traded layups, Zalgiris hit triples on four consecutive trips down the floor - first Popovic, then two from Kuzminskas, followed up with a three from Kaukenas – to go ahead 46-38. Bamberg answered with a pair of foul shots and a three-pointer from Gavel, before a baseline jumper from Ksistof Lavrinovic gave Zalgiris a 50-45 halftime advantage.
Third quarter: Bamberg uses a 0-9 run to stay close
A put-back from Darjus Lavrinovic and a layup from Mario Delas made it 54-45, but baskets inside from Ford and a triple from Jacobsen tied things up at 54-54. A basket-plus-free throw from Kaukenas snapped the visitors’ run, and after Ford’s layup, Javtokas added a put-back to the hosts’ tally. However, Bamberg tied the score at 61-61 with a fastbreak layup from Gavel and a big dunk from Ogilvy, but Lipkevicius nailed a triple from the right corner to give Zalgiris a 66-63 edge going into the fourth quarter.
Fourth quarter: Kaukenas hits key shots as Zalgiris finishes with a smile
Darjus Lavrinovic opened the final quarter with a layup and a dunk for a 7-point margin, before Juskevicius sank a triple and Ksistof Lavrinovic hit a jumper off the glass to make it 75-64. After a timeout, Ogilvy completed a monster put-back dunk, then blocked an attempt from Lipevicius, but a fastbreak dunk from Ksistof Lavrinovic kept the margin in double figures. Coach Joan Plaza was called for a technical foul that allowed the visitors a 5-point possession, including a tough basket in the crowd from Ogilvy. Kaukenas fired up the home crowd with a driving layup, then added a jumper, too, but Nachbar answered with an layup and a long jumper of his own for 81-75. Emotions were flying high with players from both teams showing a lot of energy and hustling for every ball until the end. For Zalgiris, Kuzminskas, and Popovic each split free throws, but Bamberg did not manage to get any closer as Darjus Lavrinovic grabbed couple of offensive rebounds to seal the deal.
Thursday, April 4, 2013