Zalgiris KOs Bamberg with big fourth-quarter rally
Zalgiris Kaunas roared back from an 11-point third-quarter deficit to beat Brose Baskets Bamberg 80-84, eliminating the German champs in the process. The Lithuanian champs held a slim halftime advantage and learned at the break that their place in the Top 16 had been secured when Real Madrid beat Anadolu Efes in Istanbul. Zalgiris then slumped in the third quarter and fell behind 69-58. However Justin Dentmon and Ksistof Lavrinovic led a 2-20 start to the fourth quarter as Zalgiris not only stormed ahead, but went on to win, eliminate Bamberg and drag Efes into the Top 16 in the process. Zalgiris improved to 5-5 with the win and finished the regular season in third place in Group B. Bamberg, at 3-7, placed fifth and will continue its European campaign in the Last 32 of the Eurocup. Dentmon led the way with 26 points and 7 rebounds, Arturas Milaknis made 4 of 5 three-pointers en route to 14 points and Lavrinovic and Paulius Jankunas netted 11 each. Anton Gavel finished with 16 points and 8 assists for Bamberg, Rakim Sanders scored 14, D’Or Fischer 12 and Maik Zirbes had 10 points and 7 rebounds in defeat.
First quarter: Threes by Gavel, Godsberry and Sanders fuel hosts
Zalgiris won the opening tip and Jankunas scored the game’s first basket. Casey Jacobsen got the hosts on the scoreboard. Milaknis and Gavel traded threes to keep thing even. Offensive rebounds by Zirbes and Robertas Javtokas led to easy buckets at each end. Jankunas nailed a three-pointer to put the visitors up 7-12 midway through the quarter. John Goldsberry answered from downtown. And a minute later Goldsberry hit another to bring the German champs within 1. However Dentmon drained a three and Javtokas a hook shot to re-establish control, 13-19. Gavel drained his second three to trim the gap. After the TV timeout, Fischer muscled his way in the paint and then took a pass from Zach Wright for an alley-oop slam, prompting a Zalgiris timeout. The Bamberg defense took charge, while Sanders sank a pair of threes – the second a shot-clock beating heave off the glass – to cap a 13-0 run. Sarunas Jasikevicius came to Zalgiris’s rescue, but a Fischer jumper left the hosts up 28-21 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Milaknis, Dentmon show hot hands as Zalgiris grabs lead
Sanders, on the offensive glass, pushed Bamberg ahead by 9. Jasikevicius converted from downtown for Zalgiris. After empty possessions at each ends, Jamar Smith drilled a three-pointer. Lavrinovic scored and drew a foul before Milaknis sank a three to make it 33-29. After a Bamberg timeout, Dentmon knocked down a three to close the gap to 1. Fischer and Gavel padded the lead, but Milaknis’s free throws kept Zalgiris close until Dentmon drilled a three to put the Lithuanian champs in front 38-39. Zirbes scored down low, but Milaknis made his third triple. Gavel tied it with a nifty drive only to see Dentmon answer quickly. Novica Velickovic split free throws to close the gap to 43-44 at the break.
Third quarter: Gavel and Wright lead Bamberg surge
Baskets by Velickovic and Jacobsen put Bamberg back in front. Then Gavel sank a pair of free throws. Brose Arena fell silent after another Milaknis three, but Jacobsen kept his team on top, 51-47. Dentmon drew Zalgiris within 1 before Fischer scored inside. Gavel continued to play a big role with a pair of free throws and then a steal and dish to Wright for a slam and a 57-51 lead midway through the quarter. Wright fed Fischer for a slam. Jasikevicius’s floater kept Zalgiris in the game and Lavrinovic free throws narrowed the gap to 5. Wright darted baseline for a layup. The crowd erupted as Smith drove through the lane for a basket-plus-foul, which boosted the margin to 10. Dentmon drew a foul shooting a three at the other end and made the resulting 3 free throws. But minutes later Zirbes went hard to the rim for a basket and an 11-point lead. Lavrinovic scored at the buzzer to make it 69-60.
Fourth quarter: 2-22 Zalgiris charge KOs Bamberg
Zalgiris stormed back in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter. Lavrinovic tipped in his own miss and made the free throw that came with it. His steal led to a Vytenis Lipkevicius layup. Then Dentmon nailed a three and scored in transition to cap a 12-0 run for a 69-70 lead. The lead changed hands on back-to-back possessions through a Gavel layup and a Lavrinovic jumper. Lavrinovic took a seat with 5 fouls, but Tomas Dimsa’s layup put Zalgiris up 71-74. Javtokas’s basket and 4 Dentmon free throws put Bamberg on the ropes. The Zalgiris run was at 2-22 when Sanders split free throws. Javtokas opened a door for Bamberg when he missed two free throws and Sanders made it 74-80 with 90 seconds remaining. Smith split free throws with just over a minute to go. A Sanders steal and Zirbes tip-in got the hosts within 3. However a Javtokas layup essentially ended the game. Smith, after airballing a triple, got a second chance and made it with 4.2 seconds remaining. However the greatest free throw shooter in Euroleague history, Jasikvecius, iced the game from the line.
Thursday, December 19, 2013