Toolson leads Unicaja to road win in Odom's debut
In an All-Spanish League showdown in Group E, Unicaja Malaga improved to 4-4 by downing Laboral Kutxa Vitoria 71-81 on the road Thursday. Unicaja registered its second road win in the Top 16, while Vitoria dropped to 1-7 after its seventh consecutive loss. Ryan Toolson paced the winners with 14 points. Nik Caner-Medley added 12, Mindaugas Kuzminskas had 11 – all in the first quarter, Txemi Urtasun 10 while Vladimir Stimac grabbed 10 boards for Unicaja in helping his team outrebound Vitoria 31-41. Andres Nocioni led Vitoria with 18 points. Fernando San Emeterio added 17, while Fabien Causeur had 10 for the hosts, whose most-recent signing Lamar Odom made his Euroleague debut. Kuzminskas and Caner-Medley helped Unicaja build a 16-26 margin after 10 minutes. An outstanding Toolson hit an off-balance shot that broke the game open, 22-40. A layup by Zoran Dragic boosted the guests' lead to 24-47 at halftime. Nocioni led a 15-0 run which brought Vitoria back to life, 50-60, after 30 minutes. Toolson and Carlos Suarez kept Unicaja way ahead until the final buzzer.
First quarter: Kuzminskas shines as Unicaja rolls
Kuzminskas got Unicja going with a layup that Fernando San Emeterio bettered with a three-pointer for a 3-2 Vitoria lead. Jayson Granger hit a jumper, but a triple by David Jelinek put the hosts back ahead, 6-4. Kuzminskas and Nocioni traded baskets and a three-point play by Caner-Medley allowed Unicaja to get a 8-9 edge. Kuzminskas kept pacing Unicaja with back-to-back baskets, but a layup-plus-foul by Tibor Pleiss kept Vitoria within 11-13. Caner-Medley dunked, igniting a 0-7 Unicaja run in which Granger had 5 points to boost Unicaja's lead to 11-20. Nocioni shined with a driving layup that a red-hot Kuzminslas improved on with a three-pointer that made it a double-digit game, 13-23. Caner-Medley provided a highlight with a wild three-point play that Pleiss matched with his own layup-plus-foul to keep Vitoria within 16-26 at the end of the quarter.
Second quarter: Odom debuts, Unicaja takes off
Leo Mainoldi struck from downtown early in the quarter, getting the crowd involved at 19-26. Unicaja was all over the place on defense, denying passing lines. Meanwhile, the guests found a go-to guy in Toolson, who hit consecutive jumpers that kept Unicaja way ahead, 19-30. Domantas Sabonis took over with a six-meter jumper and free throws by Urtasun broke the game open, 19-35, after a 0-9 run. Vitoria went scoreless for more than 3 minutes until Mainoldi split free throws. Causeur added a layup. Odom came off the bench to make his Turkish Airlines Euroleague debut. Earl Calloway downed a three-pointer and Toolson took over with an unbelievable off-balance shot, good for a 22-40 Unicaja margin. San Emeterio tried to change things with a put-back basket but free throws by Caner-Medley and back-to-back baskets by Stimac and Zoran Dragic fixed the halftime score at 24-47.
Third quarter: 15-0 run keeps Vitoria alive
Both teams struggled to score after the break until Causeur stepped up with a driving layup. Stimac scored around the basket and Nocioni split free throws, as Unicaja kept dominating the game tempo, using longer possessions now. Thomas Huertel and an unstoppable Stimac exchanged baskets and a layup by Causeur brought Vitoria a bit closer, 31-51. Heurtel hit a six-meter jumper and a corner three-pointer by San Emeterio got the crowd involved at 36-51. Nocioni also struck from the same exact spot, which caused Unicaja to call timeout. Nocioni made free throws and a three-pointer by San Emeterio capped a 15-0 run that brought Vitoria as close as 44-51. Unicaja was held scoreless for almost five minutes until Granger made free throws, which Toolson followed with a triple for a 44-56 Unicaja lead. Nocioni split free throws, Urtasun swished a six-meter jumper and a layup by Causeur brought Vitoria within 47-58. Nocioni shined with a three-point play, but Toolson gave Unicaja a double-digit lead, 50-60, after 30 minutes.
Fourth quarter: Suarez, Stimac seal it for Unicaja
Causeur scored in penetration early in the quarter, but Suarez did better with a bomb from downtown. Urtasun made free throws to keep Unicaja out of trouble, 52-66. Mainoldi hit a running floater, before Urtasun banked in an off-balance shot. A layup by Pleiss gave Vitoria some hope at 56-68. Unicaja kept dominating the boards and a put-back basket by Suarez gave the guests a 56-70 edge withsix6 minutes left. A three-pointer by Toolson sealed the outcome. Both teams kept fighting for point differential, as Vitoria won by 14 in Malaga. Nocioni shined with a finger roll layup, but Calloway did better with a triple. Heurtel, Suarez and Adam Hanga also connected from downtown and free throws by Nocioni made it a 14-point game. San Emeterio allowed Vitoria to keep the tie-break advantage, but Unicaja returned to Malaga with a good-as-gold road win.
Thursday, February 27, 2014