Lietuvos Rytas registered its first win in Group E by thrashing Aris TT Bank 89-74 in front of another sellout crowd at Siemens Arena in Vilnius, Lithuania on Wednesday. L. Rytas improved to 1-1 and is tied for second place in the group with Fenerbahce Ulker. Meanwhile, Aris dropped to 0-2 and needs to start winning right away to keep its playoff chances alive. Chuck Eidson and Mindaugas Lukauskis led the winners each with 18 points each. Kenan Bajramovic added 17 and 7 rebounds, missing just one shot, while Hollis Price added 15 points for L. Rytas. Jeremiah Massey led Aris with 19 points and 8 rebounds. Darius Washington added 11 while Dimitris Tsaldaris had 10 for the guests. Lukauskis and Jackson Vroman fueled an 11-2 run that allowed L. Rytas to get a 27-11 lead after 10 minutes. Price and an outstanding Barjamovic helped L. Rytas to make it an 18-point game, 49-31, at halftime. Bajramovic joined the fun as the L. Rytas lead peaked at 58-35 in the third quarter. Aris came back behind the shooting of Georgios Kalaitzis to within single digits in the final quarter, but never threatened the lead as L. Rytas took care of business.
L. Rytas got on the scoreboard first as Price drained a three-pointer before Massey downed free throws to make it 3-2. Both teams defended tough, but L. Rytas broke through first as Lukauskis penetrated for consecutive baskets. Aris ran into foul trouble as starters Kalaitzis and Reyshawn Terry sat with 2 fouls each. Hanno Mottola cut the deficit with a triple but Eidson and Lukauskis kept L. Rytas soaring at 11-5. Aris couldn't find Massey inside now, and after Eidson stole and scored, the visitors needed a timeout. Aris became a bit more agressive on offense but the red-hot Lukauskis took care of the home team's scoring, too. His triple and free throws brought back a double-digit advantage for L. Rytas at 21-9. Vroman scored now and was joined by Arturas Jomantas and Jared Jordan as L. Rytas ran away at the end of the quarter to a commanding 27-11 advantage.
Kalaitzis returned to start the second quarter and contributed immediately with a basket-plus-free throw at 27-14. Bajramovic responded with a fade-away jumper, but Aris now moved the ball faster and as such forced L. Rytas into 3 fouls in 90 seconds. Without Price on-court, the hosts turned the ball over, too, as Aris patiently hit free throws until 29-19. Price came right back and buried a big triple to start an 8-0 surge that Bajramovic ended with another shot from the arc for a 37-19 score midway through the quarter. After an Aris timeout, Vroman dunked off a great dish by Eidson and Price added his third bomb from the arc to double the guests at 42-21. Mottola and Washington cut the deficit again, but young Martynas Gecevicius joined the L. Rytas triple to make it 45-26. Bajramovic matched Aris point for point until halftime, adding a huge block on Massey that stirred the crowd as L. Rytas led comfortably, 49-31 at the break.
Lukauskis re-ignited the hosts with a triple to start the second half, while Massey answere with a hook. Eidson impressed the crowd with a huge put-back dunk and slammed again off a free from Price. By the time Bajramovic rejoined the scoring, L. Rytas had a massive 58-35 advantage. Increasingly desperate, Aris started to play one-on-one, which didn't pay off, then took another timeout. L. Rytas tried to surprise Aris with a press, but Terry and Massey scored anyway, although a three-point basket-plus-free throw by Petravicius kept L. Rytas up 63-40. Aris intensified its comeback effort as Kalaitzis and Mottola hit consecutive triples before Massey ended an 0-8 run that put the guests closer, at 65-49, after 30 minutes.
Tsaldaris opened the decisive quarter with an important triple for Aris, and as L. Rytas struggled offensively, Iliadis drained another from downtown to trim the difference to its lowest in two quarters, 65-55. Bajramovic finally scored for the hosts, but Massey answered before getting called for an intentional foul. Bajramovic hit both free throws, but Aris kept pushing down the deficit as Kalaitzis buried another triple at 69-60. Eidson lifted the home crowd with a huge three-pointer in response, but silence fell again as Vladimer Boisa matched it for Aris with a basket-plus-free throw at 72-63 with 4 minutes on the clock. The threat to L. Rytas posed by the red-hot Kalaitzis disappeared with his fifth foul, after which Aris was hit with a technical, too. L. Rytas made the decisve 5 free throws to restore an insurmountable margin, 77-63, with 3 minutes left. Aris wanted to reduce that anyway, and Washington and Massey obliged with layups, but Eidson, Bajramovic and Price finished off the victory for L. Rytas.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008