Zalgiris Kaunas holds off ALBA Berlin
Zalgiris Kaunas led from start to finish to beat ALBA Berlin 75-62 and pick up its first Top 16 win in Zalgirio Arena on Friday. Both teams have 1-1 records in Group E. Zalgiris had a strong start to the game, opening with a 14-4 lead, but the visitors answered with a run of their own and remained close throughout the game. Every time James Anderson, Paulius Jankunas or Arturas Milaknis helped Zalgiris pull away to a double-digit margin, ALBA had an answer, mostly through Cliff Hammonds and Jamel McLean. The visitors cut it to 53-51 early in the fourth, and 64-60 with less than three minutes to go, but Zalgiris finished the game on an 11-2 run to secure the victory. Anderson finished with 16 points and 6 rebounds, while Jankunas collected 14 points, 6 boards and 4 assists. Milaknis netted 12, Arturas Gudaitis had 11, and Lukas Lekavicius scored 9 of his 10 points in the second half for the winners. McLean finished with 16 points for ALBA, Hammonds scored 13, and Marko Banic had 12 in defeat.
First quarter: strong start puts Zalgiris in front
Will Cherry opened the scoring from long range, and after a driving layup from Reggie Redding, a long jumper and a layup from Paulius Jankunas gave Zalgiris a 7-2 lead. Vsiting coach Sasa Obradovic called an early timeout, but a three-pointer from Arturas Milaknis extended the lead, and the hosts went up 12-4 after Marko Banic and Robertas Javtokas traded baskets from close range. Anderson drove to the basket to push the lead into double figures. However, Hammonds hit from downtown for ALBA, Redding had a put-back and Alex King raced for a fastbreak to bring his team within 14-11. Arturas Gudaitis answered with a layup-plus-free throw, but Banic scored on another ALBA fastbreak and Jamel McLean scored in traffic to make it 18-15 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Anderson helps hosts take control
Anderson opened the quarter driving and spinning through the visitors’ defense and finishing from close range. After free throws from Banic, Edgaras Ulanovas added a basket inside to make it 22-17. After a multiple turnovers on both ends, Anderson and King traded three-pointers, and Gudaitis followed, sinking a second-chance triple to make it 28-20. Hammonds and Anderson exchanged jump shots midway through the quarter, and ALBA tried a zone defense. It did disrupt the hosts’ rhythm, but ALBA did not do much offensively either, especially in the paint against Zalgiris’s tough, physical big men. Hammonds made a floater, but Cherry scored a driving layup for the hosts. After more than two scoreless minutes, Jankunas scored a put-back-plus-free throw to make it 35-24, however, in the final minute McLean scored 4 from the foul line to cut the deficit to 35-28 at halftime.
Third quarter: Zalgiris keeps lead safe from downtown
Hammonds made a floater and a jumper to get ALBA within 35-32, but Milaknis scored from downtown and Anderson on a fastbreak to restore a 9-point advantage. After a timeout, Redding fed McLean for an easy dunk, and the visitors did not allow a basket for almost three minutes until Lukas Lekavicius hit from long range. However ALBA did not make a run either in that time and trailed 43-34. Niels Giffey scored inside on the other end, but a three-pointer from Milaknis put the hosts up 11. McLean strung together 6 points, including another easy dunk and a tip-in for ALBA, and after Lekavicius made 3 of 4 from the foul line, free throws from Alex Renfroe cut it to 50-44. In the final 40 seconds of the quarter, Anderson buried a step-back three-pointer for Zalgiris, before McLean had another dunk to make it 53-46.
Fourth quarter: Hosts make big shots to secure victory
ALBA opened the quarter playing zone defense, and with Hammonds driving to the hoop, and Renfroe hitting a three, the visitors came within 53-51. Anderson hit a tough long jumper, and Jankunas drained a three from the corner to make it 58-52. Banic had an easy layup, but Gudaitis had a powerful dunk, and Jankunas scored a put-back to give Zalgiris a 64-56 lead. After a timeout, Redding scored a short baseline jumper, and Banic followed from almost the same spot to halve the deficit. However, Javtokas scored a basket-plus-free throw with 83 seconds to go, 67-60. The hosts made a defensive stand, and a pair of foul shots from Jankunas extended the margin to 9 points. Banic hit 2 free throws to give ALBA slim hope, but Lekavicius nailed a three-pointer to ice the game before Milaknis beat the buzzer at the very end to give Zalgiris the largest margin of the night.
Friday, January 9, 2015