Zalgiris ends ASVEL's streak, 85-75
Zalgiris Kaunas took over a tight game late in the third quarter to down LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne 85-75 on Tuesday and end the visitors' six-game winning streak. Zalgiris lifted its record to 15-12 with its seventh consecutive home win to stay on the bubble for a playoff spot while ASVEL's defeat meant a 12-15 record. Marius Grigonis led the winners with 21 points, while Joffrey Lauvergne added 18, Thomas Walkup 12 and Rokas Jokubaitis 10. For ASVEL, Guerschon Yabusele hit for 17 points, while Norris Cole had 14, David Lighty 10 and Ismael Bako 10.
The teams were content to trade baskets early, with Lighty scoring twice for ASVEL in a 6-6 tie. Grigonis and Walkup hit the game's first triples for Zalgiris at 12-8, but Yabusele quickly matched them. Girgonis hit again from deep but Cole kept the visitors close until his second-chance triple seized a 17-18 lead. ASVEL's matchup zone stymied Zalgiris until Amine Noua's layup left the visitors in front 17-20 after one quarter. Noua kept it going with free throws and a three-pointer to make it 18-25 before Augustine Rubit made Zalgiris's first field goal in more than 6 minutes. Rubit drew Zalgiris within 24-27 before Charles Kahudi and Yabusele buried threes for ASVEL at 27-33. Walkup and Jokubaitis answered for the hosts, setting up Grigonis to tie it up, 34-34, with a triple. Back-and-forth baskets carried the tie forward until Lighty's lane jumper gave ASVEL a 40-42 halftime edge.
Yabusele and Grigonis scored before Jokubaitis, with free throws, forged a new tie, 44-44. Lighty broke it but Lauvergne and Jokubaitis combined for 5 points to go up 49-46. Yabusele answered with 5 of his own to make it 49-51. Back and forth they went, with Jokubaitis and Lauvergne connecting on alley-oop dunks to make it 55-55. Grigonis buried another second-chance triple and then Lauvergne hit just his second of the season as Zalgiris staked its high lead so far, 61-55. Cole's layup was answered by Lekavicius twice, including a buzzer-beating reverse that suddenly had Zalgiris ahead 67-57 after 30 minutes. Lekavicius added jumper to the lead before Bako and William Howard revived ASVEL, but Walkup and Jankunas again stretched the Zalgiris lead to 73-62. When Grigonis stepped back extra deep to beat the shot clock, it proved everything was going right for Zalgiris at 76-62. Cole, from distance, ended ASVEL's 6 minutes without a field goal to make it 78-67, but with less than 3 minutes left. Lighty cut it further, to 80-73, with a steal and layup, with 1:14 to play, but Zalgiris closed it out to keep the win in Kaunas.
It was 55-55 with 4 minutes left in the third quarter and Zalgiris's biggest lead til then had been 8-4. After keeping a rebound alive that turned into a triple by Grigonis, Lauvergne hit his own shot from the arc, sparking a 2-14 run into the fourth quarter for which Lekavicius scored the last 6 points, flipping the scoreboard into Zalgiris's favor for the duration of the game.
Zalgiris center Joffrey Lauvergne had a quiet first half, with 2 points in 2 rebounds in almost 9 minutes. He personified his team's fire after intermission, however, finishing with 18 points and all 3 of his offensive rebounds for a team-high PIR of 19 as Zalgiris won the second half 45 to 33.
ASVEL hit 5 of 11 threes in the first half and led for most of it. Zalgiris coach Martin Schiller offered one remedy in his halftime interview: "Keep the ball in front, take away the drives, so they can't kick the ball to make the easy shots." Said and done. The Zalgiris defense held ASVEL to 3 for 14 three-point shooting after halftime and the visitors found no answers to make up those points.
Both teams return to action on Friday of this week in Round 27. Zalgiris stays home to host AX Armani Exchange Milan. ASVEL returns home for a visit from Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul.
Tuesday, March 2, 2021