Zalgiris topped visiting Asseco Prokom 74-68
Zalgiris held on for a 74-68 victory over Asseco Prokom Gdynia to improve to 2-1 and move into a tie for the top spot in Group A. Despite blowing a 17-point second-quarter lead and a 10-point edge with six minutes to go, Zalgiris was stronger in the extra period to secure a hard-fought victory. Tomas Delininkaitis’s triple with 27.3 seconds left in regulation tied the game at 61-61 and Dan Ewing missed a potential game winner in the closing seconds. In the overtime, Marty Pocius scored 5 and dished a key assist as Zalgiris took control and held on to win. Pocius led the hosts with 18 points, Delininkaitis scored 16 and Mirza Begic added 11. Zalgiris, one of four teams tied for first in its group, travels to face co-leader Caja Laboral next week. Prokom meanwhile dropped to 0-3 and hosts Partizan next week. Ewing led Prokom with 14 points, Ratko Varda had 12 and J.R. Giddens and Mike Wilks scored 11 each.
Things went the hosts' way in the early minutes as Arturas Milaknis scored the games opening points and Travis Watson added to the Zalgiris lead on the offensive glass. Dainius Salenga made it 6-1, however Giddens struck from downtown and midway through the quarter Filip Videnov did the same to give the visitors their first lead. Wilks capped a 0-8 burst with a layup on the break. Tadas Klimavicvius answered with Zalgiris’s first triple to tie the score. The pace picked up with Giddens attacking the basket first and then Pocius and Delininkaitis both hitting from behind the arc t make it 17-12 and causing Prokom head coach Tomas Pacesas to call timeout. Paulius Jankunas extended the Zalgiris lead with an open layup. Pocius drilled an open three from the corner to cap an 11-0 run and give the hosts their first double-digit lead. Prokom focused on Varda inside and came away with 2 points from the line the first chance, but traveling the second. A brilliant pass from Mantas Kalnietis set up Jankunas for a basket-plus-foul to give Zalgiris a 27-14 lead after 10 minutes.
Ewing made a jumper to open the second quarter and soon added another basket, but Delininkaitis kept Zalgiris in control. De Juan Collins stretched the Zalgiris advantage to 35-18 and then rose to block Adam Lapeta’s shot at the other end. Bobby Brown got on the scoreboard with a three-pointer, but Milaknis matched him. Giddens also hit from outside and Wilks penetrated for a layup to keep Prokom alive. Ewing drilled a pull-up jumper to make it 39-30, but Pocius responded with 2 from the line and Zalgiris took a 41-30 cushion into the locker room at halftime.
Ewing sank a three with confidence in the opening minute of the second half, but did not build on that and Pocius soon had the hosts back up by 10. However Zalgiris also went cold. At first Zalgiris missed some good shots, but as the drought progressed, the shots got wilder. In the meantime, Giddens converted a three-point play and Wilks tore through the Zalgiris defense for a layup to bring the visitors within 5. Then Jan Jagla sank a fadeaway jumper to make it 43-40. Collins got to the line for 2 points, but Prokom continued to charge and after a Brown slam and a Jagla three, the visitors had a 45-47 lead. Collins added a free throw to make it 46-47 heading into the fourth quarter.
Begic made 1 free throw to tie the score at the start of the deciding quarter and soon Delininkaitis made 1 of 2 as well from the line to put the hosts back ahead. Jankunas finally ended a 17-minute field goal drought – going all the way back to a Milaknis triple with three-and-a-half minutes left in the second quarter – to relieve the pressure on the hosts. Prokom meanwhile hit a dry spell of its own, while Begic pushed the hosts lead up to 5. Kalnietis and Pocius struck soon with back-to-back triple to cap an 11-0 burst that made it a 10-point game. Prokom used a timeout and made one last run. Videnov finally got Prokom’s first points of the quarter and then Varda made it 57-51 with just under four minutes remaining. Ewing and Varda each scored again to get the visitors within 2. Zalgiris struggled to extend the lead from the line and Ewing completed Prokom’s comeback with a triple with just over a minute remaining. Pocius missed twice from the line with 55 seconds remaining and Varda went inside for a big basket and a 58-61 Prokom edge. After a timeout, Delininkaitis came off a curl and swished a triple from the top of the key to tie the game with 27.3 seconds left. Ewing missed a potential game-winning jumper on Prokom’s final possession and Kalnietis’s wild prayer at the buzzer bounced out, sending the game to an extra five minutes.
Varda scored for Prokom to open the overtime session. Pocius put his free throw woes behind him and tied the game before Delininkaitis’s jumper put the hosts on top. Jagla became the first player to foul out and Delininkaitis made it 67-64 with 2:40 to play. Prokom committed a 24-second violation and a Pocius free throw made it a two-possession game. Travis Watson became Zalgiris's first player to sit with 5 fouls and Brown converted the resulting free throws. Pocius fed Begic for a slam and then he got to the line and stretched the lead to 72-66 with 53 seconds left. Brown missed a pull-up three and Jankunas sealed the Zalgiris win with a follow-up basket.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010