Adecco Asvel ran ahead early and guarded its lead jealously to beat visiting Group B opponent Zalgiris 85-83 at home in Villeurbanne, France on Thursday. The victory lifted Asvel's record to 2-5, but didn't let it escape last place in the standings. Just one victory ahead, at 3-4, is Zalgiris and three other teams: AEK, Olimpija and Scavolini. Terrell Lyday scored 23 of his 25 points in the second half to preserve the victory for Asvel. Harold Mrazek added 17 points for the winners, Stephane Pelle 13, Huseyin Besok 11 and Tomislav Ruzic 10. Robert Pack led five Zalgiris scorers in double figures with 23 points. Darjus Lavrinovic, just back from injury, scored 14 off the bench, while three others added 11 points: Tanoka Beard, Vidas Ginevicius and Paulius Jankunas.
Mrazek got Asvel off to a great start by scoring the game's first 5 points, including his first triple. Besok and Herve Toure added inside baskets before Mrazek was back with a second strike from downtown and Asvel had a whopping 12-0 start. Pack finally got Zalgiris on the board with 3 points but before 4 minutes were played, Mrazek was back with his third three-pointer and 11 points already, good for a 17-3 Asvel advantage. Pelle took over from there for the hosts, answering every Zalgiris point for the next minutes with a shot of his own, 8 points in all for a 25-8 Asvel lead. Only the last-minute appearance of Ginevicius with back-to-back three-pointers gave any hope to Zalgiris at the end of a 25-14 first quarter.
The visitors' hope had to be put on hold, however. Through the early minutes of the second quarter, every Zalgiris basket was answered immediately by Asvel. Now it was Ruzic's turn to shoot for the hosts, and he poured in 10 points in four minutes to offset several Zalgiris baskets. When Besok hit a jumper in the 14th minute, the Asvel lead stood at 39-21, its highest yet. That moment also marked the start of the Zalgiris comeback. Pack, Beard and Paulius Jankunas rattled off the next 8 points in the game. After another Besok layup made it 41-29, it was must Jankunas and Pack who scored in the 2 minutes until halftime, their 8 additional points bringing Zalgiris as close as 41-37 when the half ended.
Lyday and Lavrinovic had a duel of 5 and 6 points, respectively, to start the third quarter. When Beard and Mindaugas Timinskas joined Lavrinovic, however, Zalgiris completed its comeback with a 46-46 tie. Significantly, however, the guests couldn't take the lead then, as Toure, Danny Miller and Lyday chipped in points until Mrazek's fourth triple supplied a 55-50 advantage. Besok soon lengthened the lead before Lyday blasted his own triple for a 62-54 lead. Only Ainars Bagatskis saved Zalgirs then, with 2 triples among his 7 points to close the period with 68-62 on the scoreboard after 30 minutes.
Playing catch-up got harder for Zalgiris as it couldn't score for the first 3 minutes of the last quarter. Meanwhile, Mrazek hit free throws and Pelle and inside shot to extend the Asvel edge to double digits, 72-62. Zalgiris needed a help and Lavrinovic gave it, suddenly scoring 5 points in a 0-7 run in less than a minute, cutting the difference to 72-69. Again, however, Lyday stepped up for Asvel, with 2 free throws and a dunk. When Jankunas and Pack shared 5 points to get Zalgiris within 76-74 with 4 minutes to go, Lydell answered yet again, with 4 more points. Asvel seemed tired however, as Beard and Pack made 5 of 6 free throws in the next-to-last minute, finally getting Zalgiris an 80-81 lead. It was all free throws after that, too, and Asvel made the next 4, half by Lyday, to go up 84-81. Although Bagatskis made 2 more for an 84-83 scoreboard, Pelle added another and Miller stole the last Zalgiris possession as time ran out and Asvel counted another Group B victory.
Thursday, December 16, 2004