Zalgiris thrills fans with victory over Efes
Zalgiris Kaunas gave its fans plenty to cheer about in an exciting 79-71 victory over Anadolu Efes Istanbul on Thursday night at Zalgirio Arena. The hosts pieced together a 20-1 charge that bridged the second and third quarters to take a double-digit lead and Efes never got closer than 7 the rest of the way. The win bumped Efes’s record to 5-7,although the Lithuanian champs have been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention. Efes, which entered the game tied for first place, slipped to 9-3. A win would have secured a playoff berth for Efes, which now must wait for other results to advance this week. Darjus Lavrinovic paced the home side with 24 points to match his season high. Mindaugas Kuzminskas added 15 and Rimantas Kaukenas 9 for the victors. Jamon Lucas paced Efes with 14 points and 7 rebounds, Semih Erden added 13 points, Jordan Farmar 12 and 4 steals and Dusko Savanovic scored 11.
First quarter: Unstoppable Erden helps Efes to early advantage
The visitors got on the board first through Semih Erden, but Zalgiris entertained its fans as Robertas Javtokas scored inside and Donnie McGrath buried a triple to make it 5-4. Savanovic took responsibility for Efes, which went ahead on a Lucas jumper. The lead switched hands once more when Ksistof Lavrinovic nailed a jumper from the top of the key, 11-10. Back and forth the lead went, with Kuzminskas creating a highlight with a basket-plus-foul. Erden drew Javtokas’s second foul and evened the score at 14-14 from the line. Then Lucas shined with a steal, layup and foul. After a timeout, the Lavrinovic twins each scored to put the hosts back ahead. However there was no answer for Erden inside, who scored his 10th point in less than seven minutes. Savanovic stretched the Efes edge to 5 from the line. After a Darjus Lavrinovic triple, Stanko Barac created a highlight with an offensive rebound and slam. Savanovic added a steal and layup, but Darjus Lavrinovic kept it close, 25-27, through 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Late Zalgiris rally gives hosts halftime edge
Kerem Tunceri got on the scoreboard with a three from the corner to open the quarter. Jamon Lucas added a wild runner as Efes moved in front by 6. Jeff Foote clawed 2 back for Zalgiris from the line, but a second Tunceri triple made it 28-35. Oliver Lafayette countered with a three before the TV timeout came at the halfway point of the quarter. A Foote tip in cut the deficit to 2, but Lucas stole the ball under the Zalgiris basket and went coast to coast for a slam to protect the lead. Rimantas Kaukenas, with 4 straight points, drew Zalgiris within 37-39. After an Efes timeout, Savanovic fired in a triple. Foote finished inside with a one-handed slam and Kuzminskas scored on the break to make it a 1-point game. Mario Delas swished a triple to give the hosts a 44-42 lead at the break.
Third quarter: Darjus Lavrinovic keys 13-1 Zalgiris charge to start the second half
Darjus Lavrinovic worked hard for a basket and foul on the first play of the second half. Kaukenas found Darjus for a big slam to boost the hosts’ lead to 6. The crowd really got into it after a Kaukenas block and a three-point play by Kuzminskas. A Darjus Lavrinovic triple extended the lead to double digits for the first time and resulted in an urgent Efes timeout at 55-43.Kuzminskas added 2 more free throws to bring the run to 13-1. Efes got a break when Kaukenas was whistled for an intentional foul on Farmar. Kaukenas took a seat with 4 fouls and Farmar ended the Efes drought with free throws. Nonetheless Zalgiris rolled as the crowd roared. Vytenis Lipkevicius added a jumper and Darjus Lavrinovic a hook shot before Coach Oktay Mahmuti used another timeout. Josh Shipp buried a three, however Zalgiris kept the momentum. But soon Kerem Gonlum posterized Kuzminskas with a vicious slam and Lucas carved through the Efes defense. Barac scored on the offensive glass to trim the gap to single digits. Dogus Balbay free throws took the Efes run to 8 straight points to end the third quarter at 63-56.
Fourth quarter: Driven by excited crowd, Zalgiris never lets up
Lafayette drew an offensive foul at one end and scored a three-point play at the other to restore Zalgiris’s confidence. Barac hit a short jumper, but Darjus Lavrinovic – after missing a pair of free throws – crushed in a two-handed slam to keep the lead at 10. Farmar back in and tried to spark his team with a steal and layup. Lucas nailed an important three to make it 70-63 with four and a half minutes to play. Darjus Lavrinovic brought the crowd to its feet with a triple. Erden dunked for his first basket since the first quarter. Farmar added a layup to make it 74-67 with just over two minutes remaining. Kaukenas nailed a pair of clutch free throw with 1:49 left. Farmar added a quick layup. McGrath kept the hosts up by 9 with 2 free throws with 45 seconds to go. A tough layup by Farmar proved to be too little, too late as Zalgiris ran out the clock for its fifth win.
Thursday, March 21, 2013