Zalgiris gets second straight win
Zalgiris Kaunas recorded its second consecutive win by topping LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne 70-56 in front of almost 15,000 fans at Zalgirio Arena on Friday. Both teams now have a 2-2 record in the regular season standings. Zach LeDay led the winners with 13 points. Thomas Walkup added 12, Marius Grigonis 11 and Arturas Milaknis 10. Tonye Jekiri led ASVEL with 10 points. Three-pointers by Antoine Diot, Charles Kahudi and David Lighty helped ASVEL get a 14-20 lead after 10 minutes. But Walkup and Milaknis fueled a 14-0 run that put Zalgiris ahead, 28-20, midway through the second quarter. Zalgiris kept a 38-30 margin at halftime and extended it to 55-45 at the end of the third quarter. Nothing changed after that, as the hosts kept a safe margin until the final buzzer.
Diot got ASVEL going with a three-pointer and Kahudi soon added a jumper for a 2-5 lead. Grigonis struck from downtown but a layup by Jekiri ignited a 0-7 run which Diot capped with a driving basket for a 5-12 score. Leday and Grigonis stepped up for Zalgiris, combining for 7 quick points to keep their team within 12-14. Lighty buried a triple and Edwin Jackson added a jumper to restore a 14-20 ASVEL lead after 10 minutes. Walkup took over early in the second quarter with 4 quick points and Milaknis added a catch-and-shoot triple and a coast-to-coast dunk. ASVEL kept struggling to score while a layup by LeDay and a three-pointer by Grigonis boosted the hosts' lead to 28-20, after a 14-0 run. Livio Jean-Charles hit a jumper but Lukas Lekavicius and Milaknis kept Zalgiris way ahead, 32-24. Kahudi and Diot brought ASVEL a bit closer, 33-28, at halftime. Walkup hit a corner triple soon after the break and Paulius Jankunas added his trademark jumper from the elbow for a 38-30 Zalgiris lead. A layup by LeDay soon made it a double-digit game, 41-30, forcing ASVEL to call timeout. Walkup struck again from beyond the arc and Jankunas added a driving layup, but Jekiri and Amine Noua kept the guests within 46-36. Lighty and Rihards Lomasz each hit a three-pointer and Noua added a layup to give ASVEL hope at 52-45. Milaknis beat the third-quarter buzzer with a triple that restored a 55-45 Zalgiris margin after 30 minutes. Edgaras Ulanovas scored in the low post midway through the fourth quarter and a jumper by Nigel Hayes made it a 12-point game, 59-47, with 4 minutes left. Walkup downed a step-back jumper, LeDay scored again and a three-pointer by Ulanovas sealed the outcome.
Thomas Walkup did a little bit of everything to lead Zalgiris off the bench. He finished with 12 points on 2-of-4 two-point shots, 2-of-2 three-pointers and 2-of-2 free throws, adding 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 fouls drawn for a PIR of 19.
The opening 5 minutes of the second quarter changed everything. ASVEL went scoreless and everyone contributed for Zalgiris – Zach LeDay, Walkup, Marius Grigonis and Arturas Milaknis, who sank his trademark three-pointer off a screen and added an unexpected coast-to-coast dunk in a 14-0 run that gave the hosts a 28-20 margin. Zalgiris never trailed after that.
Bench scoring made the difference in this game - Zalgiris's backup players combined for 41 points and ASVEL only got 24 points from its bench. Shooting percentages were important, too. Zalgiris hit 55.2% inside the arc and 42.1% from downtown, much better than ASVEL (39.5% 2FG, 26.1% 3FG).
Did you notice?
Both teams have now played nine times against each other and the host team always won. Zalgiris is 5-0 at home against ASVEL and 0-4 in Villeurbanne. It was their first matchup since 2009, but the story repeated itself - again!
These teams return to Turkish Airlines EuroLeague action earlier than usual next week due to the first two-round week of the season. ASVEL hosts KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz on Tuesday at 20:45 CET. A day later, Zalgiris welcomes Zenit St Petersburg - featuring former head coach Joan Plaza - at 19:00 CET.
Friday, October 25, 2019