Midway through Friday night’s meeting between Zalgiris Kaunas and Khimki Moscow Region, the visiting team was on track for a much-needed road victory after using a strong second quarter to establish a 39-48 half-time lead. But then Zalgiris ensured it would seize a sixth consecutive victory by delivering one of the best quarters of basketball ever seen in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague.
It was all started off, appropriately, by MVP of the Round Joffrey Lauvergne, who only needed 11 seconds to receive a high pass from Marius Grigonis and throw down a powerful uncontested alley-oop. Then Thomas Walkup drove straight through the middle of the Khimki defense to layup, before Marius Grigonis netted a three-pointer to complete a 7-0 run in 75 seconds.
The men in green had started the third quarter as they meant to continue, and points continued to rain down on a Khimki defense that seemed totally powerless to stop the assault. Lauvergne’s inside dominance was relentless, while Walkup, Grigonis and Nigel Hayes found more space to profit on the perimeter, and finally Lukas Lekavicius stepped up to finish the quarter with a four-point flurry.
In the end, Zalgiris had amassed no less than 39 points in the third quarter, the second-highest third period in the modern era of the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, and the joint fifth-highest total achieved in any quarter – a list topped by Maccabi Electra with 43 points in the fourth quarter against Montepaschi Siena in March 2010.
The Lithuanian team was also extremely effective at the other end of the floor, showing great energy on defense to limit Khimki to just 13 points in the quarter. With a partial score of 39-13, that gave Zalgiris a difference of plus-26 points in the quarter, the joint second-highest this century. The only time it has been bettered was in the 2001 playoffs, when Kinder Virtus Bologna had a plus-27 quarter (39-12) in a victory over Adecco Estudiantes.
For the record, the scorers in Zalgiris’s thrilling third quarter were Lauvergne (11), Hayes (7), Grigonis (6), Walkup (5), Lekavicius (4), Paulius Jankunas (4) and Arturas Milaknis (2). The team made 8-of-9 two-pointers, 4-of-6 triples and all 11 free throw attempts.