Lauvergne inspires Zalgiris to thrash Khimki
Joffrey Lauvergne produced the best performance of his career to power Zalgiris Kaunas to a 102-75 home win over Khimki Moscow Region on Friday night. Lauvergne scored 29 points on 13-of-14 two-point shooting and hauled down 9 rebounds to give Zalgiris its sixth consecutive victory, improving to 11-7 while Khimki stays in last place at 2-16. Khimki initially competed well and used a 2-16 run to establish a 32-43 lead before half-time, but Zalgiris fought back after the break and took total control with 11-2 and 16-0 runs, winning the third quarter 39-13 to put the outcome beyond doubt. Lauvergne’s spectacular performance was complemented by 18 points and 8 assists for Marius Grigonis, and 14 points for Nigel Hayes. Khimki was paced by Alexey Shved with 22 points and 8 assists, while Devin Booker had 19 points and 7 rebounds.
Zalgiris focused its early efforts inside, scoring through Lauvergne, Grigonis and Arturas Milaknis, while Shved got Khimki moving with a three-pointer. Lauvergne and Booker traded alley-oops, making it 8-7 midway through the opening period. Shved twice dished for Sergey Karasev to score, but Lauvergne continued to dominate inside with 7 more points, stretching the lead to 17-11. Jordan Mickey’s triple was answered by Hayes before Shved scored 6 straight points including a four-point play. Augustine Rubit had the first quarter’s last word with a buzzer-beating dunk for a 22-20 lead. Martinas Geben started the second quarter scoring, but another Mickey threeball and Vyacheslav Zaytsev’s layup-and-one kept Khimki close, 28-27, despite 4 points from Hayes. An inside score from Grigonis was bettered by Shved from deep, and 4 straight points from Booker gave Khimki the lead, 30-34. Another Lauvergne alley-oop was answered by two more scores from Booker, and a deep three from Stefan Jovic made it 32-43 after a 2-16 run. Lukas Lekavicius got Zalgiris back on the board, before Lauvergne and Booker both scored twice inside to make it 39-48 at the break.
Lauvergne opened the third quarter with another alley-oop, and Thomas Walkup penetrated to score before Grigonis struck from deep for a quickfire 7-0 run. Booker responded with a powerful dunk but Milaknis drove the baseline to layup and Lauvergne scored again to tie the game, 50-50. Jovic and Walkup exchanged deep strikes and Hayes sent Zalgiris back in front from beyond the arc. A three-point play from Lauvergne and a transition three from Grigonis made it 64-55, before two more scores from the unstoppable Lauvergne and free throws capped a 18-0 run, making it 74-55. Errick McCollum finally scored Khimki’s first field goal in nearly five minutes, before Lekavicius made it 78-61 after three quarters. McCollum and Mickey offered some resistance early in the fourth, but Grigonis twice struck from long-range to extend the lead beyond 20 points. A pair of dunks from Geben made it 96-72, and Walkup scored in transition before Rokas Jokubaitis took Zalgiris into triple figures from the foul line, and teenager Marek Blazevic completed the scoring with his first career field goal.
Lauvergne approaches Scola record
With 13 of his 14 field goals converted, Joffrey Lauvergne registered the second-highest number of two-pointers with just one miss in EuroLeague history. Only Luis Scola has scored more two-pointers with a solitary missed shot, making 15-of-16 for Tau Ceramica against Benetton Basket in the 2005 playoffs.
Great offensive numbers for Zalgiris
The home team had only made 1 of its 5 three-point attempts at half-time, but put that right by going 6-of-12 from beyond the arc after the break. Zalgiris also dished 25 assists, and converted 31 two-point shots – its highest since 2014.
Zalgiris steps up on D
Another key to the outcome was a big improvement on defense after half-time from Zalgiris. Khimki scored 48 points in the first half but could only manage 27 after the break, being held scoreless for more than 4 minutes midway through the third quarter.
Khimki will tip off the double round week at home to FC Barcelona next Tuesday, while Zalgiris is also in Moscow to face CSKA the following night.
Friday, January 8, 2021