Panathinaikos rallies past Zalgiris
Panathinaikos Athens picked up a huge 73-78 away win over Zalgiris Kaunas on Thursday night as Roko Ukic scored 11 of his 21 points in the final six minutes and Dimitris Diamantidis set the all-time Euroleague steals record. Panathinaikos, which improved to 5-3 in Group E, now holds a tiebreaker over Zalgiris with two head-to-head victories, while Zalgiris drops to 3-5 and sixth place in the standings. The teams often traded leads, and no team had a lead bigger than 6 points throughout the entire game. The hosts went up 61-56 in the fourth quarter, but Michael Bramos and Diamantidis tied the game before Ukic made his run that secured victory for Panathinaikos. In addition to his 21 points, Ukic also dished out 6 assists. Diamantidis had 13 points, 10 assists and 2 steals, which made him the Euroleague’s career steals king with 329. James Gist scored 12 and grabbed 9 rebounds. Oliver Lafayette netted 15 for Zalgiris, Ksistof Lavrinovic scored 11, and Marko Popovic 10.
First quarter: Threes rain down early
Diamantidis got the game started with a three-pointer from the left corner, and after Robertas Javtokas opened Zalgiris's account, Ukic sunk a triple from the right corner to make it 2-6. The hosts quickly caught up, as the teams proceeded to trade leads and rain shots from behind the arc. Ksistof Lavrinovic started the sequence with a triple, followed with Diamantidis and Tremmell Darden trading threes for 11-10. Ukic and Javtokas scored baskets inside continuing good offensive rhythm for both sides, but after Stephane Lasme and Sofoklis Schortsanitis twice put Panathinaikos in front, Popovic snapped the see-saw battle with a jumper. It started an 8-2 spurt that put the hosts up by 5, before Gist stole the ball and raced for a dunk and a 22-19 lead after the first quarter.
Second quarter: Zalgiris protects slim lead
Jeff Foote opened the second quarter with a put-back before Bramos and Mindaugas Kuzminskas traded three-pointers. After a layup-plus-foul from lasme, Zalgiris answered with Rimantas Kaukenas hitting a jumper and Javtokas scoring from close range, 33-27. The visitors had Ukic running the show and dishing assists for Kostas Tsartsaris inside and Jason Kapono behind the arc to cut the deficit to 1 point, but Ksistof Lavrinovic and Darden scored on back-to-back possessions to keep the hosts in front. A marvelous half-court alley-oop pass from Diamantdis to Gist made it 37-35 before Lafayette put the hosts up by 6 with back-to-back triples, however Ukic nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer to close within 43-40 at halftime.
Third quarter: Greens regain lead as Diamantidis makes history
Popovic hit a floater at the start of the third quarter, but Tsartsaris and Gist answered from inside the paint for 45-44. Zalgiris restored a 5-point lead with Ksistof Lavrinovic hitting a baseline jumper, and Javtokas making a reverse layup, but Ukic scored inside, and Maciulis drove the baseline, putting Panathinaikos up 49-50. Zalgiris regained the lead with a triple and a driving layup from Lafayette, but Diamantidis sank a three-pointer for 56-56 and then stole the ball from Darjus Lavrinovic to make him the all-time Euroleague steals leader. Zalgiris went into the last 10 minutes up 58-56, however, after Foote made a put-back to beat the buzzer.
Fourth quarter: Ukic show seals the deal for Panathinaikos
Foote split free throws at the start of the fourth, and Lafayette drove to the basket for another 5-point advantage. Panathinaikos, though, tied it 63-63 with Bramos making a layup-plus-free throw, and Diamantidis nailing a triple. Ukic managed a layup with his back to the basket, putting the visitors up by a point, and after Gist made a tip-in and a dunk, Ukic sank a triple for a 69-73 lead with less than three minutes to go. After a timeout, Ukic added a fastbreak layup for a 6-point margin. Popovic answered with a driving layup before the teams went on a two-minute scoring drought. Then, it was Ukic again who put the game away in the final minute, as he grabbed an offensive rebound, dribbled it to use the clock, and finally nailed a floater off the glass just before shot-clock expired, 71-77. Darjus Lavrinovic made a dunk on the next possession, but it was too little, too late for the hosts.
Thursday, February 21, 2013