Winterthur FC Barcelona made a big move to start the Top 16 in Group D when it outlasted host Zalgiris 85-86 on the road in Kaunas on Thursday behind an inspired scoring show by Juan Carlos Navarro. In what was his career-high in a Euroleague game, Navarro poured in 32 points to lead the winners to 1-0 record to start the second phase. Zalgiris fell to 0-1 despite climbing all the way back from 20 points behind in the first half to try to win it on the final shot, righ after Navarro gave Barcelona a four-point advantage with free throws. Reggie Freeman made a triple at the buzzer for the hosts and was looking for a foul to go with it, but didn't get the call, leaving Barcelona to escape with the victory. Shammond Williams was the other double-figure scorer for Barcelona, with 17 points. Darjus Lavrinovic paced Zalgiris with 20 points and Tanoka Beard had 19 and 11 rebounds, while Jonas Maciulis had 13.
Zalgiris controlled the opening tip but it was Denis Marconato who opened the scoring with a mid-range jumper, to which Bootsy Thornton added a basket to put the visitors ahead 0-4. Zalgiris got only a free throw from Reggie Freeman before Shammond Williams drilled a three-pointer and Navarro a basket in penetration. to make it 1-9 for the guests. Freeman finally got through Barcelona's man-to-man defense for a layup and Kenny Anderson hit his second-chance triple after Paulius Jankunas rebounded the first for Zalgiris. Barcelona answered with a layup by Thornton before Anderson dished to Beard and Simonas Serapinas drove for what became a three-point play, pulling the hosts within 10-14. In response, Navarro and Williams went wild, splitting 3 three-pointers between them while Jankunas hit his own for the hosts. When Gregor Fucka scored his first basket, Barcelona had its biggest lead, 15-27, which Zalgiris could only trim with free throws by Beard to 17-27 after 10 minutes.
Vidas Ginevicius started the second quarter for Zalgiris with free throws that cut the margin to single digits, 19-27, but Thornton copied him on the very next possesion. Barcelona continued its shooting spree on offense as Navarro initiated a 0-7 run with a fastbreak basket and Fucka added a shot in the low post. Navarro's next basket came with a free throw that provided Barcelona a 17-point lead, 19-36. Anderson hit a difficult jumper then saw the guy he replaced, Ed Cota, score for Barcelona, which soon got a triple from Mikailis Kakiouzis for a whopping 21-41 lead before a fragile Zalgiris defense. It was a wake up call for Zalgiris, and after Beard and Jonas Maciulis answered with back-to-back triples, a wild dunk by Darjus Lavrinovic charged up the crowd. Barcelona reacted by bringing Navarro off the bench and it paid off soon as he made layup but Zalgiris got its rhythm back with free throws from Maciulis and a fastbreak basket off the steal by Ginevicius that cut the difference down to single digits, 38-47, at halftime.
Navarro opened the third quarter with a free throw but Zalgiris came fresh from the break as red-hot Maciulis led a 7-0 run with a three-pointer and a layup. By the time Zalgiris looked inside twice in a row for Beard, the hosts had an 11-3 run and had pulled to within 49-50. Navarro and Marconato combined for 4 points to keep Barcelona ahead. Serapinas got free throws for Zalgiris but Cota matched him for Barcelona. Despite a big block by Lavrinovic, Barcelona succeeded in pulling away again with a 0-5 run led by Cota and Rodrigo De La Fuente that reestablished a double-digit lead, 53-64. Serapinas drove inside for a flashy layup and Lavrinovic connected from the high post for Zalgiris, but the visitors still had a 59-68 advantage after 30 minutes.
After a quiet minute to start the final quarter, Lavrinovic saw his inside shot answered by a jumper from Navarro, who then gave a behind-the-back fastbreak assist to Williams. Despite picking up his fourth foul, Navarro poured in another triple and a jump shot from the corner that silenced the home crowd and fixed 65-77 on the scoreboard. The Zalgiris offense had hit the wall in the final quarter until Ginevicius went coast-to-coast for a layup and Freeman nailed a three-pointer to keep the hosts alive at 70-81. Zalgiris continued rallying as Lavrinovic faked his defender and drove the baseline for a two-handed dunk. Lavrinovic kept hot with two more layups and a free throw to make it 77-81. After Williams scored for Barcelona, Lavrinovic was back with a triple, giving him 9 points in a row and pulling Zalgiris within 80-83 entering the final minute. To a Williams free throw, Beard answered with a layup. Navarro then went to the foul line and hit 2 of 2 to make it 82-86. On its last possesion, Zalgiris found Freeman outside the arc and he made a buzzer-beater off a fake but didn't get the foul call he wanted to force overtime, so Barcelona left an 85-86 winner.
Thursday, February 23, 2006