Zalgiris bounces back to sink Maccabi
Zalgiris Kaunas kept its playoffs dreams alive by earning a dramatic 83-85 comeback victory over Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv at Menora Mivtachim Arena. It marked the Lithuanian champs' fourth win in the last five games. Maccabi was ahead by double figures before halftime, but Zalgiris fought back with great determination to finish strong, turning the game around with a 7-18 partial score in the final 4 minutes. Leo Westermann led his team with 16 points and 5 assists, Thomas Walkup scored 14, Brandon Davies had 12 points and 6 assists, Marius Grigonis also had 12 and Aaron White added 11. Tarik Black and Scottie Wilbekin both scored 18 points for Maccabi and Yovel Zoosman had 10. The teams are now level with 12-15 records, two wins short of the playoff zone with three games remaining.
Grigonis scored twice in the opening 90 seconds, but Black matched that to keep Maccabi in touch. Westermann tipped in for a 6-11 lead, but Black made a huge dunk and Jeremy Pargo struck from deep in a 9-1 run to send Maccabi ahead. Michael Roll scored twice as Maccabi rolled to a 23-19 lead after 10 minutes. Walkup and Deon Thompson scored from close range as Zalgiris went ahead with a 0-6 run, but 8 consecutive points from Wilbekin – 2 triples and a driving layup – moved Maccabi back in front, 31-25. Johnny O'Bryant, Zoosman and John DiBartolomeo all struck from deep for a double-digit lead, but Westermann and Antanas Kavaliauskas pulled Zalgiris back to 45-36 at the break. Wilbekin started the second half with a triple, but White, Arturas Milaknis and Westermann all scored from deep as Zalgiris fought back to tie at 52-52 with a 0-13 run. A three-point play from Walkup sent the visitors ahead, but Zoosman's triple and Angelo Caloiaro's layup-and-one helped make it 59-57 after three quarters. Zoosman and Caloiaro started the final quarter's scoring, but consecutive baskets from Davies made it 67-65. DiBartolomeo fired 5 quick points to stretch the lead, but a driving basket-plus-foul from Grigonis kept Zalgiris in contention. Davies's dunk and Westermann's runner made it 79-80 with 2 minutes left. Black's layup was followed by a Milaknis triple and Maccabi made nothing of two possessions as Zalgiris held on.
Turnovers cost Maccabi
Maccabi had huge problems looking after the ball, committing 5 turnovers in first 5 minutes and 11 in first the 14. The home side then settled down for a while, but continued to regularly cough up the ball in the latter stages, finishing with 22 turnovers – the highest number committed by any team all season and the third-most by Maccabi in the EuroLeague this century.
Zalgiris turns it around from deep
A big factor in the outcome was a huge contrast in Zalgiris's three-point shooting accuracy at the start and end of the game. The visiting team converted only 1 of its first 10 shots from beyond the arc, but improved dramatically after the break and ended up making a respectable total of 7 of 19 (36.8%) three-point attempts.
Davies steps up late
After three quarters it appeared that Zalgiris's top performer this season, Brandon Davies, would not make a significant impact. He had scored only 2 points with nearly 33 minutes played, but then decided to take matters into his own hands: Davies recorded 10 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in the final 7:15, playing the central role in his team's late charge.
Zalgiris returns home to take on Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul on Friday, while Maccabi will travel to face Khimki Moscow Region in the Russian capital.
Wednesday, March 20, 2019