Zalgiris gains important road win at Caja Laboral
Zalgiris Kaunas remained unbeaten in Turkish Airlines Euroleague by pulling out a 71-77 win over Caja Laboral in Vitoria on Friday night. The victory gives Zalgiris a 2-0 record for the first time since 2005, and a tie with E7 Emporio Armani for the first place in Group C, while Caja Laboral remains winless. The Lithuanian champs used a 0-9 run in the third quarter to open up a 14-point lead and never trailed again, but needed some clutch shooting and a defensive stands in the final 30 seconds to secure victory. Tremmell Darden led all scorers with 17 points while Rimantas Kaukenas added 15 in the winning effort. Oliver Lafayette netted 12, Marko Popovic 11 and Darjus Lavrinovic scored 10 points for the victors. Brad Oleson led Laboral with 13 points on 4-of-7 three-point shooting. Andres Nocioni also scored 13 and Maciej Lampe chipped in 12 for Caja Laboral in defeat.
First quarter: Oleson’s triples get Caja Laboral going
Rimantas Kaukenas got the game underway with a fadeaway jumper, but Nemanja Bjelica replied with an easy layup. A driving layup from Nocioni sparked a 12-2 Caja Laboral run that included Brad Oleson back-to-back triples, one from the right side and the other from the left, and a fast-break layup from Maciej Lampe to make it 14-6. Tremmell Darden stopped Laboral's run, while Nocioni and Bjelica helped maintain the margin. Popovic hit from downtown as soon as he entered the game and Oliver Lafayette hit a jumper to cut it to 17-15. Thomas Heurtel and Darjus Lavrinovic traded triples on the next two possessions, and Darjus Lavrinovic’s long jumper tied the game at 20-20 after eight minutes. Zalgiris took a 20-23 lead as Adas Juskevicius split free throws and Popovic scored a fast-break layup, but Laboral regained the advantage on Lampe free throws and Oleson’s third triple of the quarter, which made it 25-23 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Zalgiris’s defense goes to work
It took only a minute for Zalgiris to take a lead again when Kaukenas drained a three, and Juskevicius used nifty assists from Mario Delas to make it 25-28. Juskevicius also made a coast-to-coast driving layup to help Zalgiris maintain control as the Lithuanian champions’ defense allowed only one field goal, Milko Bjelica’s layup, in first seven minutes of the quarter. During that time Zalgiris did not produce much on offense, either, but Popovic went 4 for 4 from the charity stripe to give Zalgiris a 29-34 advantage. In a wild minute that followed, both teams upped the tempo by running the floor, but continued their offensive struggles with turnovers and missed layups and three-pointers. After a much-needed timeout for both sides, Darden and Nocioni traded jumpers and Popovic hit a teardrop to make it a 5-point game. The hosts missed to end the quarter and Zalgiris took 35-40 lead into halftime.
Third quarter: Visitors pull away with 10 unanswered points 14s
Darjus Lavrinovic hit a three-pointer from left corner that extended Zalgiris’s lead and after Carlos Cabezas and Nocioni cut that advantage in half, Jankunas hit a triple to make it 39-46. On the other side, Laboral players struggled with their outside shooting, Fernando San Emetero, Nocioni and Cabezas all missed shots behind the arc. Zalgiris stayed patient and punished its opponent, a triple by Darden and a driving layup by Kaukenas gave them first double-digit lead of the game, 41-51 after 25 minutes. Darden continued making his presence felt, he scored from close range then blocked Nocioni’s layup, and Kaukenas hit a jumper to extend the lead to 41-55. Lampe snapped 0-10 run with a layup and Milko Bjelica hit a pair of free throws, while again Bjelica and San Emeterio each added a layup for 10-2 run that got hosts to 51-57 at the end of third quarter.
Fourth quarter: Laboral rallies to set up a close finish
Kaukenas hit a jump shot and jump hook from the low post to lift Zalgiris to a 10-point lead once again, but Laboral answered from downtown - Heurtel hit a triple, then Oleson hit a lucky three-pointer-plus-foul to make it 58-61. Lafayette answered with a triple, but Lampe and scored inside and hit a jumper to bring Laboral within 2 points, 62-64. Darden, however, beat the clock with a jumper, then dunked on a baseline backdoor cut, and Lafayette finished a 0-7 run with a triple that gave Zalgiris 62-71 lead with little over three and a half minutes to go. Lampe scored an easy basket from close range, but Darden hit another jump shot to keep the margin at 9. San Emeterio with a layup and Cabezas with a long jumper kept Laboral’s hopes alive, and San Emeterio’s drive-plus-foul cut the deficit to 71-73 with 80 seconds to go. Kaukenas missed a three-pointer on the next possession, but this time Popovic secured a long rebound that eventually resulted in Jankunas hitting a long baseline jumper from the right to give visitors a 4-point lead with 27 seconds remaining. After a timeout San Emeterio missed a tough three-point attempt and Lafayette secured the victory with a couple of free throws.
Friday, October 19, 2012