Efes's defense dumps Zalgiris
Anadolu Efes Istanbul put on a defensive display in dumping Zalgiris Kaunas 58-79 on Tuesday evening at Zalgirio Arena. Efes outscored Zalgiris in every quarter in posting a convincing win to take its record to 11-6. Adrien Moerman tied career highs with 23 points and 4 three-pointers made to pace the winners. Moerman scored twice in a 0-12 second-quarter run that gave Efes the lead for good. Bryant Dunston added 13 points and Rodrigue Beaubois scored 12. Marius Grigonus scored 9 to lead Zalgiris, which lost its third straight game to fall to 7-10. Zalgiris is 3-7 at home this season.
Dunston dominated early with his team's first three baskets as the teams settled into a 6-6 tie. Aaron White got going to push Zalgiris ahead 12-11, but Beaubois came off the bench for 5 quick points that lifted the visitors to a 14-16 edge after 10 minutes. Young Laurynas Birutis helped the hosts regain the lead early in the second quarter, but it was short-lived; Balbay and Moerman each hit threes in a 0-12 Efes surge to lead 17-28. Nate Wolters stopped the bleeding for the hosts only the see Moerman remain on fire. The forward converted a three-point play and Kruno Simon netted free throws as the lead swelled to 22-38. Zalgiris regained its confidence with 7 straight points, the last ones coming via a Marius Grigonus three-pointer. Dunston scored inside to make it 29-40 at the break. Moerman picked up where he left off with a triple to start the second half. Brandon Davies got Zalgiris within 10, but Simon responded with free throws and a triple for a 33-48 Efes advantage. Back-to-back threes by Moerman and Beaubois matched Efes's biggest lead from the first half, 38-54. Moerman kept scoring and took the difference to 18 and that's how it stood, 45-63, after Dunston's three-point play to end the third quarter. Shane Larkin banked in a floater early in the fourth quarter to make it a 20-point game. The lead peaked at 53-79 on a Shane Larkin three-pointer with 2 minutes remaining as Efes coasted to victory.
Zalgiris took a 17-16 lead early in the second quarter, but it would be all Efes after that. Adrien Moerman scored twice in a 0-12 Efes run and the hosts never got closer than 9 again.
The Moerman effect
Moerman was so hot in the second quarter that he nearly outscored Zalgiris by himself. In fact, he had through the first 8 minutes of the quarter, 8-13, before the Lithuanian champs rallied for 7 points at the tail end of the half.
Deja vu defense?
Zalgiris had its lowest-scoring home game in more than four years since it was held to 57 points in a loss to Anadolu Efes Istanbul in December 2014. The current Efes squad has little in common with the team that inflicted pain on Zalgiris in that game; only Dogus Balbay remains on the Efes squad, while swingman James Anderson, now with Efes, scored 18 for Zalgiris that night in his debut EuroLeague season.
Did you notice?
While it may be a game that many on the Zalgiris squad want to forget, it was a memorable night for teenage guard Lukas Uleckas, who made his EuroLeague debut and scored his first basket with 3 minutes to go. Uleckas played a total of 4:57 and finished with 2 points and 1 assist.
Round 18 games
Both Zalgiris and Efes return to action on Thursday and both will play in Istanbul. Efes heads home to welcome Khimki Moscow Region, while Zalgiris faces Fenerbahce Beko in a rematch from last season's EuroLeague semifinals.
Tuesday, January 8, 2019