Unics Kazan pulls away to beat Zalgiris
Unics Kazan pulled away in the second half to beat Zalgiris Kaunas 73-60 and move a step closer to the Top 16. Unics can clinch a berth later Friday if its other rival for the remaining tickets to the next stage, Nizhny Novgorod, losses at Anadolu Efes. The result improved Unics to 5-4 in Group A, while Zalgiris slipped to 4-5. Keith Langford and D’Or Fischer scored 16 points apiece to lead Unics, which trailed 34-36 at halftime. The score was tied 42-42 in the third when Langford netted 4 free throws and Kostas Kaimakoglou made a three and assisted Ficher for a slam in a 9-0 run. The hosts took a double-digit lead on a James White triple to open the fourth quarter and never looked back. White finished with 12 points and Kaimakoglou added 11 plus 4 assists and 3 steals for the winners. James Anderson led the Zalgiris attack with 12 points and Lukas Lekavicius scored 10 in defeat.
First quarter: Kaimakoglou takes charge for the hosts
Both teams came out flat offensively; Paulius Jankunas scored the only basket of the first two minutes. Kostas Kaimakoglou found Fischer alone at the rim for a slam and the hosts’ first points. Karinauskas scored inside and Arturas Milaknis buried a three as the visitors grabbed a 2-7 lead. Jankunas rejected Fischer at the rim, but the hosts soon found their form. White scored on the break and Kaimakoglou brought the hosts within 1 with a layup. Milaknis’s second three put Zalgiris up 8-12. Kaimakoglou sank a mid-range baseline jumper to keep the hosts close. Anderson placed a perfect pass to Robertas Javtokas for a layin. Langford drained a shot from outside and some great team passing led to a White dunk to even the score at 14-14. After a Dairius Songailia jumper at one end, Langford found a cutting Kaimakoglou for a layup. Lekavicius hit a long three-pointer, but Langford scored and Nikos Zisis finished a fast break with a layup for Unics’s first least, 20-19.
Second quarter: Langford limps off; but return for final play
Langford got a lucky roll on a jumper to start the quarter. Anderson countered with his first basket for the visitors. Zisis banked in a touch shot and Lekavicius answered with a runner. Anderson went through the lane for a layup that put Zalgiris up 24-25. Curtis Jerrells hit a jumper at the other end before Jankunas scored on the offensive glass with the score changing hands on each basket. After a Sergey Bykov three, Anderson sank a long jumper over Bykov to tie the game at 29-29. Langford limped off after colliding with a Zalgiris player, though not before assisting Bykov on a three-pointer. Bykov set up Fischer for a layup and a 5-point lead. Vytenic Lipkevicius showed off with a nifty finish in transition and Karinauskas buried a three-pointer to cap a 0-7 run that gave Zalgiris a 34-36 lead. Langford made his return just before the end of the quarter and missed a three at the buzzer.
Third quarter: Langford, Kaimakoglou highlight 9-0 Unics run
White connected from downtown on the first shot of the second half. Zalgiris worked the ball inside several times for Zalgiris, which regained the lead on his layup. A Kaimakoglou jumper tied the game at 40-40. Jankunas scored inside and Fischer answered on the break. Langford got to the line and edged the hosts ahead. Kaimakoglou sank a big three to make it 47-42. Zisis was forced off the court after falling and suffering a cut on his face. The lead reached 9 after Langford free throws and a Fischer slam. Arturas Gudaitis hit a jumper to end Unics’s 9-0 run, but even after a broken play, Fischer found White for a layup to make it 53-44.
Fourth quarter: Fischer helps Unics put the game away
Fischer hit a jumper to give the hosts a double-digit lead. Lekavicius answered for Zalgiris, but a White triple made it 58-46. Songailia free throws were met by a Jerrells layup. Fischer added free throws and Langford banked in a shot as the lead reached 64-48. Lekavicius connected with a three for Zalgiris, but Fischer answered back with a jumper. Javtokas scored inside and Anderson made his first three, but that only drew Zalgiris within 12. Any Zalgiris comeback was further hurt when Tomas Dimsa and Jankunas combined to miss 3 of 4 free throws. Jerrells and Anderson traded threes as the fourth quarter ticked away and Unics looked optimistically towards the Top 16.
Friday, December 12, 2014