Fenerbahce flattens Zalgiris
Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul cruised to a convincing 84-61 victory over Zalgiris Kaunas on Thursday night at Ulker Sports and Event Hall. The hosts bounced back after scoring a season-low 52 points in a loss at Valencia Basket the week before to net 28 in the first quarter alone. The victory lifted Fenerbahce's record to 18-12, while Zalgiris fell to 15-15. Jan Vesely dominated with 21 points on 9-of-10 field goal shooting plus 10 points and 5 assists for the winners, Nando De Colo accumulated 16 points and 6 assists and Dyshawn Pierre added 12 points and 2 blocks. Lukas Lekavicius paced Zalgiris with 12 points, Thomas Walkup scored 11 and Marius Grigonis paired 10 points with a career-high 8 assists.
Nigel Hayes started the scoring with a three-pointer and he later added a basket in the paint to stretch the visitors' lead to 2-7. De Colo sliced into the Zalgiris lead with a dish to Vesely in the paint and a three-pointer. A deep three by Grigonis made it 9-12 after 5 minutes. De Colo added a second three before his steal led to a Pierre slam for the hosts' first lead. Marko Guduric capped an 8-0 Fenerbahce run with a three-point play that made it 17-12. De Colo fed Vesely for a spectacular alley-oop slam and added a triple as the hosts stretched the lead. A three by Guduric late in the first quarter gave Fenerbahce a double-digit lead, 28-18. Lekavicius sparked Zalgiris at the start of the second quarter, but Fenerbahce held firm. Martinas Geben's alley-oop dunk made it 32-24 midway through the quarter. Rokas Jokubaitis drew the visitors within 6, however, Guduric and Pierre assisted on each other's baskets and Vesely scored another 7 in a 13-0 run to finish the half ahead 45-26.
A three by Walkup and a steal and slam by Grigonis showed that Zalgiris had life in it. Baskets by Vesely and Ahmet Duverioglu saw Fenerbahce recapture its dominant form and lift its lead to 20. Lorenzo Brown's layup made it 66-41, though Zalgiris scored the last 5 points of the third quarter – through Paulius Jankunas, Lekavicius and Augustine Rubit – to get within 66-46. Danilo Barthel started and ended a 10-0 run to start the fourth quarter with threes as the lead ballooned to 30. Walkup ended the Zalgiris drought with a three and he banked in another before finishing a fastbreak with a layup that made it 79-56, but it was too little, too late as Fenerbahce cruised to another big win.
Zalgiris was still in the hunt in the second quarter and a three-pointer by Rokas Jokubaitis made it a 6-point game. That's when Fenerbahce went on a 13-0 tear to finish the half ahead 45-26. Marko Guduric and Dyshawn Pierre assisted on each other's baskets and Jan Vesely scored another 7 in the run.
Fenerbahce outshot and outrebounded Zalgiris. The home team made 60.5% of its two-pointers, compared to 50% by Zalgiris. Fenerbahce converted 55.6% of its threes, while the visitors made 25%. And on the glass, it was 39-25.
De Colo passes a legend
Nando De Colo finished the game with a performance index rating of 23, which marked the seventh time in his last eight games that his PIR has been more than 20. That run of form led to him moving past FC Barcelona legend Juan Carlos Navarro for third place all-time with 3,891 index rating points – 1 more than Navarro retired with. The man in second place was De Colo's opponent on this night; Paulius Jankunas has 3.946 although he did so in 154 more games. De Colo also came within 1 free throw of Navarro for third place on that list with 852.
Zalgiris returns home for Round 31 to host Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv on Thursday, March 25. Fenerbahce will visit Greece to play Olympiacos Piraeus the following evening.
Thursday, March 18, 2021