Lessort leads Monaco past Unicaja
AS Monaco remained undefeated in 7DAYS EuroCup Top 16 Group E after downing Unicaja Malaga 90-71 at home on Tuesday. Monaco improved to 2-0 in the standings and remains undefeated at home against Spanish League teams in EuroCup action - four wins in as many games. Unicaja dropped to 0-2. Rob Gray paced the winners with 24 points and Mathias Lessort tallied 20 points, 9 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks. Dee Bost added 15 points and 8 assists and J.J. O'Brien scored 12 for Monaco. Deon Thompson led Unicaja with 20 points and 8 rebounds, Jaime Fernandez added 11 points and Ruben Guerrero scored 10 for Unicaja, which led 31-39 at halftime. O'Brien and an unstoppable Lessort rescued Monaco, giving their team a 61-57 margin at the end of the third quarter. Monaco boosted its margin to 69-59 and never looked back.
Thompson got Unicaja going with a three-pointer and a jumper. He got help from Alberto Diaz for a 0-10 lead. Gray struck from downtown and Marcos Knight added a layup, but Diaz made it 5-13. Lessort dunked and a red-hot Gray hit consecutive triples to bring Monaco within 13-16. Knight took over with a driving layup and Abdoulaye Ndoye added a tip-in, but Dario Brizuela and Guerrero each scored in the paint for a 17-20 Unicaja lead after 10 minutes. Guerrero and Axel Bouteille combined for all the points in a 1-9 run that restored a double-digit Unicaja lead, 18-29, early in the second quarter. Thompson followed a dunk with a jumper before adding a tip-in that broke the game open, 19-35. O'Brien and Lessort tried to change things for Monaco and Bost struck from beyond the arc to give the hosts hope at 28-37. Lessort dunked again, but Fernandez's driving layup built a 31-39 Unicaja lead at halftime.
Lessort kept pushing Monaco with a tip-in soon after the break. Adam Waczynski struck from downtown and Guerrero added a layup, but Gray and an unstoppable Lessort got Monaco even closer, 41-44. After Guerrero and O'Brien exchanged jump hooks, Gray buried his fourth triple and a tip-in by Lessort gave the hosts their first lead, 48-46. Damien Ingles sank a three-pointer and O'Brien added a basket-plus-foul to boost Monaco's margin to 54-48. Thompson and Fernandez rescued Unicaja, but Ndoye joined the three-point shootout. Lessort made it 61-57 after 30 minutes. Bost struck from beyond the arc early in the fourth quarter and Wilfried Yeguete followed a wild three-point play with a put-back layup for a 69-59 Monaco lead. Gray followed a fastbreak layup with a jumper. Bouteille and Brizuela got Unicaja within 73-64. After O'Brien scored in penetration, Gray scored and Bost buried a step-back triple that sealed the outcome, 82-67, with less than 3 minutes left.
Mathias Lessort had an outstanding performance, especially at the offensive end as a dominant force in the paint. He set new EuroCup career-highs in points (20), offensive rebounds (8) and steals (4), hitting 7 of 10 two-point shots, 6 of 8 free throws and added 1 assist, 2 blocks and 6 fouls drawn for a PIR of 32, matching his personal best.
Ruben Guerrero gave Unicaja a 41-46 lead early in the third quarter but Monaco improved its defense and stopped running its offense through Lessort, finding other go-to guys. J.J. O'Brien, Damien Inglis and Rob Gray fueled a 13-2 run that gave Monaco its first lead of the night, 54-48, switching the game's momentum for good.
Monaco forced Unicaja to 21 turnovers and only committed 7. The hosts pulled down 22 offensive rebounds to set a club record. Turnover and offensive rebounds gave Monaco 43 extra possessions, which made a big difference.
Did you know?
Mathias Lessort pulled down 8 offensive rebounds to set a Monaco club record. The previous record belonged to Ian Hummer, who had 7 offensive boards in a 65-75 victory against ratiopharm on October 16, 2018.
Both teams return to EuroCup action next week. Monaco visits Joventut Badalona on Tuesday, January 26. A day later, Unicaja hosts Nanterre 92.
Tuesday, January 19, 2021