Zalgiris leaves Belgrade with perfect record intact
Zalgiris Kaunas remained perfect on the season with its third straight road win on Tuesday, 69-75 over Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade at Aleksandar Nikolic Hall. Zalgiris became the first team to ream three wins while dropping Zvezda to 1-2. The Lithuanian champs kept Zvezda to just 2 points in the first 7 minutes of the fourth quarter and held on late for their third straight win on the road. Lukas Lekavicius came off the bench for 16 points on near-perfect shooting to lead the winners and Joffrey Lauvergne returned from a one-game hiatus to post 12 points and 8 rebounds. Jordan Loyd paced the Zvezda attack with 19 points and Dejan Davidovac and Corey Walden netted 11 points apiece.
Round 2 MVP Loyd remained hot with a three-pointer for the game's first points. A Marius Grigonus layup was all Zalgiris could musted in the game's first 5 minutes as the hosts raced to a 9-2 start. Teenager Rokas Jokubaitis came off the Zalgiris bench to hit a jumper and assist on a Lekavicius triple that rallied the visitors to tie it at 11-11. Paulius Jankunas free throws gave Zalgiris its first lead, 14-15, but Zvezda came right back through Langston Hall and the score was tied at 19-19 after 10 minutes. Ognjen Kuzmic got going for the hosts to jump ahead 26-23 before Steve Vasturia responded for Zalgiris to take a 29-30 advantage. Lauvergne had 3 offensive rebounds on a single possession before converting a three-point play to make it 31-36. Martinas Geben scored 3 points and blocked a shot in the final minute of the half to leave Zalgiris with a 33-39 cushion at halftime.
A three by Nigel Hayes to start the second half gave Zalgiris its biggest lead of the night, but Davidovac scored 8 in a 10-0 run as Zvezda surged ahead 43-42. The lead switched hands several times over the ensuing minutes with Lauvergne and then Loyd playing big roles. A one-legged fadeaway jumper by Augustine Rubit lifted Zalgiris in front 60-62 at the end of the third quarter. Zvezda was held without a basket in the first 7 minutes of the fourth quarter while Jokubaitis drilled a three to make it 62-69. Zvezda turned things around, keeping Zalgiris without a point for more than 5 minutes before a jumper by Hall got Zvezda within 2. Zalgiris made 6 free throws without a miss in the final minute to hold on for the victory.
Thomas Walkup had a tough night; he was limited by foul trouble and did not score in his 14 minutes on the floor. Zalgiris turned to Rokas Jokubaitis in his place and the teenager went wild with 9 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists in a brilliant effort. He shined early to help Zalgiris turn around a first-quarter deficit and later drilled a big three-pointer in the fourth quarter that put his team up 7.
Zalgiris committed 15 turnovers and collected just 3 steals, which could make it tough to win on the road. However, the visitors dominated the glass, outrebounding Zvezda 25-36. Four Zalgiris played contributed at least 5 rebounds: Joffrey Lauvergne had 8, Rokas Jokubaitis 6 and Nigel Hayes and rebounding king Paulius Jankunas grabbed 5 each.
Zalgiris returns to Lithuania to host Anadolu Efes Istanbul in its home opener in Round 4 on Thursday, October 15. Zvezda is scheduled for a trip to France to face LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne the same evening.
Tuesday, October 13, 2020