Efes pulls away late to beat Zalgiris
Tadija Dragicevic came up big in the fourth quarter to help Anadolu Efes Istanbul pull away for a 72-61 victory over a stubborn Zalgiris Kaunas side on Thursday at Abdi Ipekci Arena. The game was tied at 54-54 early in the fourth quarter before Dragicevic fueled a 12-2 Efes charge that paved the way to victory. With the win Efes improved to 3-1 in Group B, while Zalgiris fell to 1-3. Scotty Hopson led the Efes attack with 15 points, Dusko Savanovic and Kostas Vasileiadis added 13 points each, Dragicevic finished with 10 points and Semih Erden posted 10 points and 8 rebounds. Justin Dentmon scored 14 points in the first nine minutes for Zalgiris, but none the rest of the way. Ksistof Lavrinovic added 11 points and Arturas Milaknis had 10 in defeat.
First quarter: Dynamite Dentmon keeps Zalgiris in the game
Efes won the opening tip and Savanovic was the first to enter the scorer’s book. Paulius Jankunas matched him with Zalgiris’s first points from the charity stripe. Dentmon scored the game’s first three and gave the visitors their first lead, 4-5. Hopson took charge with 5 straight Efes points, but Dentmon answered the challenge with another three. A Jankunas tip-in tied the score at 12-12. Zoran Planinic took charge as he sandwiched a pair of baskets around Savanovic free throws. After a Dentmon score, Planinic’s steal and layup made it 22-14. Zalgiris came right back with a pair of Dentmon triples. Vasileiadis nailed one for the hosts, but a basket-plus-foul from Sarunas Jasikevicius and a steal from Dentmon that set up Lavrinovic for a layup left the teams knotted at 27-27 at the end of the quarter.
Second quarter: Slower pace, fewer points, teams still square
Lavrinovic put Zalgiris on top with the first play of the second quarter, but Savanovic answered quickly. Dentmon fed Tadas Klimavicius for a slam and Saras scored too as the visitors grabbed a 29-33 edge. Milaknis kept Zalgiris humming. Erden spun for a three-point play that trimmed the gap to 34-35. The scoring dropped off, but Milaknis came through for the visitors with a three-pointer. A perfect outlet pass from Savanovic found a wide-open Birkan Batuk for an uncontested fastbreak layup that tied the score at 38-38. Turnovers and missed shots plagued the last 90 seconds of the half and sent the teams into the locker rooms knotted up.
Third quarter: Hopson helps Efes claim small lead
Milaknis put Zalgiris ahead only to see Savanovic match him on the offensive glass. After a quiet spell on both ends, Hopson’s steal led to an Erden layup and Savanvic drilled a three to put the hosts up 46-40. A Milaknis triple showed that Zalgiris would not go away. Hopson continued to charge the hosts and his strip and slam boosted the Efes lead to 7. Lavrinovic hit back from downtown and Martynas Pocius drained his first three to make it a 1-point game. Jamon Gordon’s steal created an opportunity for Stanko Barac, who got to the line and split free throws to leave Efes ahead 51-49 through three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Dragicevic answers the call
Emotions were on display after every basket between two teams that badly wanted to win. Saras and Vasileiadis traded three-pointers. Dentmon’s steal led to a Klimavicius slam that tied that game at 54-54. Dragicevic stepped up and sliced through the Zalgiris defense for a layup and then buried a deep three to put his team up 5. Lavrinovic got 2 back from the line for Zalgiris. Tough defenses forced 24-second violations at each end. Dragicevic continued the fourth-quarter magic with a deep three to beat the 24-second clock. His block of Klimavicius in transition and assist to Erden provided Efes a comfortable 64-56 lead with three minutes remaining. After a timeout, Gordon set up Erden for a slam and a double-digit Efes lead. A three by Hopson with a minute remaining ignited the crowd and allowed the Efes faithful time to celebrate before the final buzzer.
Thursday, November 7, 2013