Zalgiris storms Bayern to snap losing streak
Zalgiris Kaunas ended its nine-game losing streak in style, blowing past host FC Bayern Munich 75-98 for a big road win to end the calendar year at the Audi Dome. The win lifted Zalgiris to a 4-12 record while Bayern lost it second home game in a row to drop to 6-10. Zalgiris took the lead for good midway through the first quarter and led by 15 in the second before blowing the game open in the third. Zach LeDay and Arturas Milaknis each had 19 points for the winners, while K.C. Rivers followed closely with 18. Thomas Walkup was everywhere for Zalgiris, with 13 points, 11 assists and 3 steals, while Nigel Hayes scored 12. Danilo Barthel had a career-high 20 points for the hosts and Paul Zipser scored 13 in a losing effort.
A three-point play from Vladimir Lucic and a banked triple from Barthel gave Bayern an early 11-5 lead, but Edgaras Ulanovas answered with a corner three to spark a 0-10 run in which Paulius Jankunas fought for a tip-in and Milaknis capped it with a three-pointer. Milaknis followed that with back-to-back triples to increase the margin to 13-21 at the end of the first quarter. Zalgiris scored the first 5 points of the second, with Hayes connecting from downtown to punctuate a 0-11 run. A floater from Lukas Lekavicius increased the Zalgiris lead to 15-30 with 6 minutes left in the half. Bayern went without a field goal for almost 7 minutes until Petteri Koponen nailed a triple. Barthel also knocked down a three, but Milaknis hit his fourth from downtown to make it 23-37. The hosts got to a free throw line before three-pointers from Maodo Lo and Koponen cut into the deficit. Zalgiris went into the break in front 35-43, then doubled the margin early in the second with Walkup's defensive hustle. His dish for LeDay's alley-oop dunk-plus-foul sparked a 0-9 run that opened a 38-54 advantage. DeMarcus Nelson hit from downtown for Bayern, but the visitors kept forcing turnovers, with Lekavicius and LeDay converting on the offensive end and Rivers nailing a three-pointer to make it 41-65. Zipser's transition triple snapped a 0-11 run and another one from Nihad Dedovic helped the hosts get within 50-68 going into the fourth quarter. Milaknis hit a triple and Walkup kept matters in his hands with a pair of assists, a dunk and a three-pointer to push the margin to 57-80. The hosts never threatened again as Zalgiris cruised to a long-awaited victory.
Zalgiris's scoring runs
Zalgiris had a 0-10 run in the first quarter, then a 0-11 run to bridge first and second quarters, turning an 11-5 deficit to 13-26 lead. The visitors had more runs in them, with Bayern threatening at 38-45 at the start of the third, Zalgiris answered by putting together a 0-9 run, followed by a 0-11 spurt that opened a 41-65 difference and blew the game wide open.
Zalgiris tied its club record with 29 assists and Thomas Walkup dished 11 for the second-highest single-game total by a Zalgiris player this century.
Stats tell the story
Each team hit 13 three-pointers, but Zalgiris won by a 23-point margin not only because it had 29 assists to Bayern's 16. Zalgiris also made 22 two-point shots and Bayern just 10, and the visitors committed just 7 turnovers while Bayern had 20.
Finding downtown touch
Zalgiris entered the game ranking last in three-point shooting percentage (31.0%) but hit 6 of its first 9 from downtown in the first 11 minutes of the game. The visitors finished the night having made a season-high 13 triples on 28 attempts. Arturas Milaknis was 5-for-8 and K.C. Rivers shot 4-for-6 from three-point range.
Bayern and Zalgiris will continue with EuroLeague action in the new calendar year with Round 17 next week. Bayern will travel to face Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade, while Zalgiris will be at home to host Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv.
Friday, December 27, 2019