Zalgiris trumped Partizan mt:s 73-62
Zalgiris registered its first 2010-11 Turkish Airlines Euroleague win in Group A by downing Partizan mt:s 73-62 in Kaunas, Lithuania on Thursday night. Zalgiris won its second consecutive Euroleague opener. Meanwhile, Partizan registered its third straight Game 1 loss. Marty Pocius led the winners with 17 points. Arturas Milaknis added 12 for Zalgiris. Dusan Kecman had 13 points for Partizan, that stayed in the game throughout the first quarter. A layup by Jaka Klobucar kept the guests within 19-17 after 10 minutes. Pocius had 8 points in a 15-3 run that boosted the hosts' margin to 34-20 midway through the second quarter. A seven-meter bomb by Milaknis gave Zalgiris a 17-point lead, 51-34, right after the break. Partizan managed to get within 53-43 late in the third quarter but a 9-0 run that Mantas Kalnietis capped with free throws allowed Zalgiris to stay way ahead all the way until the final buzzer.
Branislav Djekic got Partizan going with a bomb from downtown and Petar Bozic matched Milaknis's dunk with a mid-range jumper for a 2-5 Partizan lead. Pocius downed a six-meter shot and soon added his first three-pointer to give Zalgiris its first lead, 7-5, in an electric start of the game. Djekic paced Partizan with a big basket in the paint as Zalgiris tried to feed Paulius Jankunas and Travis Watson down low without much success. Kecman hit free throws, but a mid-range jumper by Jankunas tied it at 9-9. Zalgiris brought Mirza Begic off the bench, but Partizan kept following its game plan with strong defense inside. Oliver Lafayette banked in a running jumper and Kecman added a put-back layup to put the guests back ahead. Free throws by Tomas Delininkaitis and a open triple by DeJuan Collins gave Zalgiris a 16-15 lead. Partizan entered the foul bonus and could not play with the same aggressiveness. Tadas Klimavicius made foul shots that Klobucar erased with a layup in transition to make it 19-17 after 10 minutes.
Pocius took over with a driving layup early in the second quarter and immediately struck from downtown to make it a seven-point game. Partizan struggled to score and could not get Jan Vesely involved. Kecman stepped up with a layup that Milaknis matched with a long jumper. Partizan tried a tall lineup with Vesely, Sava Lesic and Nathan Jawai together on court, but a huge dunk by Kalnietis forced the guests to call timeout at 28-19. It didn't work, however, as Milaknis and Pocius buried back-to-back three-pointer to break the game open, 34-20. Jawai scored down low and Lesic added free throws, but Collins and Watson kept Zalgiris way ahead. Jawai tried to change things for Partizan, but he didn't find much help. Free throws by Delininkaitis, Dainius Salenga and Collins allowed Zalgiris to keep a safe lead, 43-29, at halftime.
Jawai scored down low immediately after the break and Vesely dunked - his first points - to give Partizan some hope at 43-33. Milaknis scored in penetration but Partizan was now a different team on defense, playing with much more intensity. Zalgiris tried to power the boards with Watson and Jankunas togther on court and the hosts soon regained the tempo. Jankunas shined with a layup-plus-free throw and Milaknis downed a long triple to force a Partizan timeout at 51-34. Klobucar banked in a three-pointer to beat the shot clock and Jankunas downed a reverse layup to maintain a 53-39 lead. Partizan kept trying to get back in the game as Klobucar dunked off a steal to bring the guests within 53-43. Delininkaitis rescued Zalgiris by making 4 of 4 free throws and Begic added a hook-plus-free throw to give the hosts fresh air at 60-45. Klimavicius set the crowd on fire with a fastbreak layup that pushed the Zalgiris advantage to 62-45 after three quarters.
Zalgiris was facing foul trouble, as Pocius and Watson sank on the bench with 4 each. Meanwhile, Partizan tried to speed up the game tempo but did not find open shots right when it needed them most. Kalnietis made free throws to cap a 9-0 run that bridged over the last two quarters. Kecman tried to ignite the guests' comeback with a three-pointer and soon added a fast break layup for a 64-50 Partizan deficit. Zalgiris had started to use long possessions to run the game clock down. Vesely dunked it off a steal but free throws by Klimavicius and Begic restored a 14-point Zalgiris lead, 66-52, with under 6 minutes left. Klobucar shined with a coast-to-coast layup that Begic erased in the other end. Partizan only managed to trade baskets and an unsportsmanlike foul on Lafayette sealed the outcome, as all Zalgiris fans were celebrating that their team had cruised to a well-deserved, convincing home win.
Thursday, October 21, 2010