Efes rides offense, rolls past Zalgiris
Reigning Turkish Airlines EuroLeague champ Anadolu Efes Istanbul delivered its best performance of the season and rolled to a 94-60 win over visiting Zalgiris Kaunas on Friday night. Efes improved to 2-5, while Zalgiris remains the only winless team after Round 7. Efes took control early behind Filip Petrusev, Tibor Pleiss and Krunoslav Simon, held a double-digit lead for the majority of the first half, then blew the game wide open behind the reigning EuroLeague MVP Vasilije Micic and cruised to a 34-point victory. Pleiss paced Efes with 17 points plus 7 rebounds. Petrusev collected 14 points and 6 rebounds. Simon had an all-round 11 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists, Micic also scored 11, and Elijah Bryant collected 10 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists in victory. Lukas Lekavicius and Arturas Milaknis each netted 14 for Zalgiris.
Niels Giffey and Tyler Cavanaugh drew first blood with baskets for the visitors, but Efes took little time to get going. Petrusev scored twice inside before Simon and Adrien Moerman each scored a triple each. Petrusev's jumper opened a 14-6 lead before Micic and Simon hit back-to-back threes that had the hosts up 20-8. But Milaknis hit three consecutive three-pointers that cut it to 24-17 at the end of the first quarter. Chris Singleton opened the second quarter with a three-pointer before consecutive baskets from Pleiss made it 33-19. Lekavicius hit a triple that got the margin back into single digits, but Shane Larkin and Pleiss combined to score 8 points, and Bryant had a three-point play to make it 44-29 at halftime.
Janis Strelnieks and Josh Nebo started the second half with an alley-oop dunk, but back-to-back triples from Rodrigue Beaubois and Moerman made it 50-31. Nebo scored inside again, but Micic had a three-point play that sparked a 7-0 run to extend it to 57-33. After Lekavicius and Micic traded threes, Petrusev and Simon with a three-point play opened a 67-40 lead. Paulius Jankunas had a pair of baskets and a block that cut it to 69-46 going into the final 10 minutes, and the veteran power forward then traded triples with Pleiss to open the fourth quarter. The threes kept raining in the fourth quarter. Lekavicius and Cavanaugh each hit behind the arc for the visitors, but Bugrahan Tuncer and Bryant had a three-pointer apiece for Efes, opening a 83-55 margin midway through the fourth as the reigning champs cruised to its second win of the season.
Key stat: Efes dominates rebounding
Efes outrebounded Zalgiris 44-28 in this game, and that margin was doubled, 22-11, after the first two quarters. The hosts used rebounding to set the tone, and their dominance on the defensive glass helped to not allow Zalgiris to get its offense going. The Efes defense held the visitors to only 9-for-29 first-half shooting. And of those 20 field goal misses, Efes allowed Zalgiris to pull down just 2 offensive rebounds. That means Efes players grabbed 90% of the available defensive rebounds, and that's a great foundation to winning a game for any team against any opponent.
Efes offense clicks behind ball movement
Efes scored more than 73 points only once in the first six games of the season. But tonight, they looked more like the offensive juggernaut of the last three seasons. Efes scored 94 points as the team made 61.9% of two-pointers, while making 11 triples on 47.8% shooting. Efes also outrebounded its opponents 44-28, and the team dished 26 assists. What really stood out, however, is that as many as six players had 3 or more assists, and four guards had a team-high 4 assists: Krunoslav Simon, Vasilije Micic, Elijah Bryant and Shane Larkin. That kind of effort is hard to play against.
Milestone night for Singleton
When Efes big man Chris Singleton entered the game with 1:08 to go in the first quarter, he made his 209th consecutive appearance. It is tied for the all-time record in playing games without missing one. Even more impressive, Singleton has never missed a EuroLeague game since 2015, and now is tied with Nikos Zisis for the all-time record. On the other side from Singleton there was Paulius Jankunas, the man with the most games played and the most starts in competition history. Jankunas sets a new record every time he enters the game, and on this night he came off the bench to make his 380th appearance tonight, also sitting at 282 starts.
Friday, October 29, 2021