Lokomotiv hangs on for vital win in Kaunas
In a game that came down to the final shot, Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar edged Zalgiris Kaunas 85-86 on Thursday at Zalgiris Arena. The visitors led by 13 early in the fourth quarter before Sarunas Jasikevicius helped the Lithuanian champs rally back to within 1. Despite a pair of clutch jumpers from Marcus Williams to keep Lokomotiv on top, Saras had a long three at the buzzer to win it. However his shot hit the front rim and allowed Lokomotiv to race home with its third road win of the Top 16 to improve to 5-6 in Group F. Zalgiris slipped to 1-10 with its fifth straight loss. Derrick Brown scored 15 points and grabbed 9 rebounds and Richard Hendrix added 15 and 8 for the winners. Williams finished with 11 points, as did Mantas Kalnietis, who was honored by Zalgiris before the game with a video tribute featuring highlights of his time with the club. Robertas Javtokas paced Zalgiris with 18 points and 9 boards and Martynas Pocius scored 16. Arturas Gudaitis, making his first career start, and Arturas Milaknis each had 14 points, while Jasikevicius had 8 points and a season-high 9 assists.
First quarter: Hosts start strong, visitors rally back
Zalgiris won the opening tip and struck first through Javtokas inside. Gudaitis took a pass from Javtokas for a score before Pocius knocked down a three from the corner to make it 7-0. Lokomotiv used an early timeout and brought in Williams off the bench, who got the visitors on the board with a pull-up jumper. Brown dunked in transition and assisted Simas Jasaitis on the break to close the gap to 9-6 midway through the quarter. Javtokas rejected Brown on the block, but the Lokomotiv forward spotted Jasaitis for a jumper. After Javtokas scored inside, Anton Ponkrashov drilled a three to tie the game at 11-11. Richard Hendrix gave the visitors their first lead, but Mindaugas Kupsas came in off the bench to match him. A series of free throws at both ends was interrupted only by a Kupsas basket. Milaknis and Williams traded threes to put Lokomotiv up 22-23.
Second quarter: Brown, Jasaitis pump up Lokomotiv’s cushion
Alexey Zhukanenko connected from behind the arc and Brown finished a break with a tomahawk jam as Lokomotiv limited the hosts to 1 point in nearly three minutes to build a 23-28 lead. After the TV timeout, Javtokas’s tip-in and free throw trimmed the deficit. Free throws from Brown and Krunoslav Simon’s drive kept the visitors rolling, but a second Milaknis triple closed the gap to 31-32. Kalnietis got going with an assist to Hendrix and a steal and layup. Javtokas drained a hook, but Brown’s three-point play in transition pumped the difference between the teams to 8. Pocius scored a reverse layup on the break only for Hendrix to answer in style. Justin Dentmon, fouled shooting a three, made 2 free throws for his first points of the game. Pocius and Jasaitis traded triples before a Jasaitis jumper gave Lokomotiv a 41-50 halftime cushion.
Third quarter: Javtokas, Milaknis keep Zalgiris in the picture
Dentmon started the second half with a triple, but a pair of Kalnietis layups – one in transition and the second a floater – gave Lokomotiv a double-digit lead. Javtokas put in his own miss only to see Brown sink a long jumper. Gudaitis and Kalnietis traded layups. A Milaknis three from the corner made it 53-60 midway through the quarter. Javtokas dunked but Ponkrashov scored in transition for the visitors. Milaknis scored 5 points in a row to get the crowd roaring at 60-62. Aleks Maric helped keep Lokomotiv in front with 3 points over two possessions as Lokomotiv finished the quarter up 61-65.
Fourth quarter: Saras carries Zalgiris back, but misses winner at buzzer
Maric scored inside and on the break as the visitors stretched their lead to 8. A Ponkrashov jumper restored a double digit difference. A technical foul on Dentmon allowed the visitors to cap a 0-9 run with a Williams-to-Hendrix alley-oop slam that made it 61-74. Javtokas ended the hosts’ scoring drought after nearly four minutes. Javtokas scored on the offensive glass and Saras threw an alley-oop to Pocius and converted a three-point play after a steal to keep his team in it at 71-76 midway through the quarter. Brown scored, Pocius answered with free throws. Baskets by Gudaitis and Pocius saw the arena erupt at 77-78 with just under three minutes to play. Hendrix, Kalnietis and Javtokas all split free throws. A follow-slam from Hendrix gave Lokomotiv a 4-point lead. Pocius and Williams each hit long jumper to make it 80-84 with a minute to go. Saras drilled a three; Williams countered with a jumper. Javtokas found a cutting Gudaitis for a slam to make it 85-86. After Williams missed a three, Pocius drove to the rim and missed a layup with 6.5 seconds left. Valeriy Likhodey missed twice from the line and the ball wound up in Jasikevicius’s hands, but his three-point attempt at the buzzer fell just short.
Thursday, March 20, 2014