Olympiacos beats Zalgiris to return to winning path
Olympiacos Piraeus ended its four-game losing streak against Zalgiris Kaunas by beating the visiting Lithuanians 83-74 on Friday. The hosts trailed at halftime 37-39 but a nice long-range shooting display in the third quarter allowed them to build a small lead that was extended to double-digits, 74-61, late in the game. The Reds bounced back from two painful losses at home to improve their record to 3-5, tied with Zalgiris (3-5) and two other teams, still far from the playoff spots. Vassilis Spanoulis led the way for Olympiacos with 16 points and 7 assists. Nikola Milutinov followed him and added 14 points and 8 boards, while Brandon Paul, Georgios Printezis and Willie Reed contributed 14, 10 and 10 points, respectively, for the winners. Jock Landale collected 23 points, Lukas Lekavicius 14 and Thomas Walkup 10 for Zalgiris.
The visitors started in great fashion, displaying a strong defense and dominating the offensive glass. Landale scored in the paint twice right before committing an early second foul, but Martinas Geben replaced him and added a three-point play to give Zalgiris a 3-7 lead. Spanoulis and Willie Reed took over and combined to put Olympiacos in front, and Printezis joined them later to to reach the 3,000-point mark in his Turkish Airlines Euroleague career with a layup that restored a lead for Olympiacos, 13-12 after 7 minutes. Zalgiris resisted and took advantage of a balanced offensive game to re-take the lead, 15-18, but a late rally boosted by Brandon Paul closed the first period with the Reds winning 19-18. Lekavicius opened fire in the second quarter with a huge three to make it 19-21, but Paul remained hot to tie at 21-21. Zalgiris surged next, with Landale and Nigel Hayes hitting from deep in a 0-8 run to a 25-32 Zalgiris advantage. After a timeout, Spanoulis hit the first triple for the hosts, sparking a 10-2 spurt that returned the lead to the home side, 35-33. Zalgiris didn't panic, though, as Landale used his quickness to score 4 more points for a 37-39 edge at halftime. Printezis and Antonio Koniaris hit back-to-back three-pointers to bring the Reds in front again, 45-39, after the break. Zalgiris remained scoreless for more than 3 minutes until Edgaras Ulanovas and Thomas Walkup reduced the gap to 45-43. Spanoulis, Taylor Rochestie and Paul responded with three-pointers for Olympiacos to make it 55-4, but free throws by Lekavicius and Walkup allowed Zalgiris to stay alive, 60-55, after 30 minutes. Free throws by Landale and Milutinov were all that dropped early in the final quarter. When Landale sat with fouls, the Spanoulis-Milutinov duo took advantage to extend the gap to 66-59. Paul hit from three later to give Olympiacos a double-digit lead, forcing a Zalgiris timeout. Rochestie showed up to make another triple, however, after which Olympiacos never lost momentum. Led by Spanoulis, the Reds entered the last minute ahead 81-70, and needed nothing but a couple of free throws by Milutinov to seal the outcome.
The curse is now broken
Zalgiris had won four straight and seven of its last eight games against Olympiacos. A last block by Kostas Papanikolau on Edgaras Ulanovas's dunk attempt was the perfect ending to celebrate the long-awaited win for the Reds against the Lithuanians.
Threes in the third
Olympiacos ranked last in the competition in three-point shooting before the game, but found the much-needed accuracy when it was needed most. The Reds got 5 three-pointers by five different players in the third quarter, which allowed them to build a solid margin until the end.
Printezis reaches 3,000
Turkish Airlines Euroleague all-decade nominee Georgios Printezis reached the 3,000-point mark in the competition tonight. His off-the-glass shot in the first quarter made him just the third player to achieve the milestone, after Juan Carlos Navarro and his Olympiacos teammate Vassilis Spanoulis.
Landale's foul trouble
Jock Landale was the most productive player on Zalgiris, posting 23 points in 19 minutes. Going in and out with foul trouble didn't prevent him from setting his Euroleague career highs with 19 points and a 23 PIR.
Olympiacos will travel to Munich to face Bayern next Tuesday, while Zalgiris will host arch-rival Panathinaikos OPAP Athens in the famous Greek Derby the same day.
Friday, November 15, 2019