Zalgiris crushes Gran Canaria
Zalgiris Kaunas led from start to finish en route to a huge 98-64 win over visiting Herbalife Gran Canaria on Thursday night at the Zalgirio Arena. With the win, Zalgiris improved its record to 10-15 record, two wins behind eighth place in the standings. Gran Canaria lost its 10th consecutive game and dropped to 6-19 for the season. Zalgiris used a 22-3 run bridging the first and second quarters to open a 26-point lead and never looked back. The hosts had five players in double figures, with Edgaras Ulanovas leading the way with 18 points. Thomas Walkup added 12, while Deon Thompson collected 11 points plus 7 rebounds. Marcus Eriksson netted 13 and Jacob Wiley had 10 points in defeat.
Zalgiris stormed out of the gate, repeatedly going inside. Two dunks from Brandon Davies and a pair of slams from Aaron White opened a 13-5 lead. A three from Xavi Rabaseda and a tip-in from Ondrej Balvin were rare Gran Canaria highlights in the early going, Thompson scored 6 points in an 8-0 run to end the first half with a 25-10 lead. Arturas Milaknis opened the second quarter with a triple as the lead swelled to 30-10. Eriksson’s three-pointer snapped a 13-0 run, but Ulanovas knocked down a corner three to start a 9-0 run and his dunk made it 39-13 midway through the second quarter. Siim-Sander Vene hit from long range for the visitors, Nikola Radicevic went coast-to-coast and Eriksson hit from way downtown to make it 46-27 at halftime. Leo Westermann hit back-to-back threes at the start of the third and Ulanovas netted one of his own. Two baskets from Davies, including a fastbreak dunk, extend the margin to 63-30. Clevin Hannah’s triple snapped a 14-0 run and the same player scored 6 more points, but a triple apiece from Marius Grigonis, Ulanovas and Walkup extended the margin to 77-43 in the final minute of the third quarter. The hosts did not stop there, as layups from Erikas Venskus and Thompson made it 89-48 - a 41-point margin! - before Wiley and Eriksson cut into the final difference.
First quarter dunk-a-thon
Out of 25 first-quarter points, Zalgiris scored 22 from within one meter or closer, shooting 11 for 16 in the opening 10 minutes. Out of those 11 buckets, five were dunks by either Brandon Davies, Aaron White or Dion Thompson. Zalgiris did not attempt its first three-pointer until 5 seconds left in the opening quarter.
Zalgiris's 18-year-old guard Rokas Jokubaitis never played more than 10 minutes and 38 seconds in any of his eight appearances in this, his rookie EuroLeague season, and totaled 12 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists in those games. In absence of starting playmaker Nate Wolters, Jokubaitis played 10:11 just in the first half, and had 6 points, 2 rebounds, 3 assists and his first EuroLeague block before halftime. Jokubaitis finished with 8 points, 5 assists, 3 rebounds and 1 block for a PIR of 10. A 19-year-old Lukas Uleckas and 18-year-old Erikas Venskus each got chances in the final quarter, making their respective second appearances.
Zalgiris finished 11 for 22 from three-point range after attempting just one three-point shot in the first quarter. Zalgiris was especially lighting it up from downtown in the third quarter when it made 6 triples on 8 attempts.
Did you catch?
Zalgiris came into the game averaging 77.7 points per game but had 77 points after three quarters. In this game, Zalgiris set season-highs in points scored (98) and performance index rating (120). The 34-point final margin tied for Zalgiris's largest margin of victory since beating ALBA Berlin by 36 points in January 2013.
Next week in Round 26, Zalgiris welcomes one of the teams it chases for a playoff spot, FC Bayern Munich, Gran Canaria will be at home to host last-placed Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul.
Thursday, March 7, 2019