Zalgiris shoots its way past Olympiacos
Zalgiris Kaunas tied its largest win of the season by beating visiting Olympiacos Pireaus 94-69 on Tuesday night at a sold-out Zalgirio Arena. It was the third consecutive win and fourth in the last five games for Zalgiris, which improved to 9-13 on the season, the same record as Olympiacos. Zalgiris took control early and never relinquished it thanks to tying a club record with 14 three-pointers and committing just 8 turnovers to turn this affair into a comfortable victory. Zalgiris also earned the head-to-head tiebreak advantage over Olympiacos, overcoming a 9-point loss from earlier this season. Arturas Milaknis paced the winners with 19 points. Thomas Walkup, K.C. Rivers and Martinas Geben scored 12 apiece, while Edgaras Ulanovas and Lukas Lekavicius each had 11 points in the victory. For the visitors, Sasha Vezenkov scored 15 and Augustine Rubit had 10.
Vassilis Spanoulis scored 5 early points, including a triple, but Zalgiris scored on five of its first six possessions and a triple by Milaknis and a fastbreak basket from Ulanovas capped a 9-0 run to make it 13-7. Kostas Papanikolaou and Rubit hit back-to-back from downtown to close within 18-17, but the hosts had a 9-0 run bridging the first and second quarters with a triple from Rivers and a put-back dunk from Zach LeDay to lead 27-17. Vezenkov knocked down a three-pointer for the Reds, but Lekavicius fueled a 7-0 run with a pair of close-range baskets before Rivers's three made it 34-20. The visitors got behind Vezenkov and Taylor Rochestie who combined for 11 points the rest of the half, helping cut it to 46-37 at halftime.
After the break, Walkup and Milaknis hit from downtown to make it 54-41. Each player scored from downtown once more before Geben scored inside as Zalgiris put together a 12-0 run to extend the margin to 69-45 late in the third quarter. Nikola Milutinov scored on three consecutive possessions in the fourth, followed by baskets from Wade Baldwin IV and Vezenkov to cut within 77-62. However, after a timeout, Ulanovas and Milaknis hit back-to-back triples as the hosts needed less than 2 minutes to extend the margin to 85-62 and Zalgiris cruised the rest of the way.
Zalgiris assumed control with a 16-3 run bridging the first and second quarters to open a 34-20 advantage midway through the second quarter. The hosts put Olympiacos away with a 12-0 third-quarter run to make it 69-45.
Zalgiris tied the club record with 14 three-pointers, which was the seventh time this century and second time this season that Zalgiris knocked down as many threes. The team did it on 22 attempts, good for 63.6% which tied for the club's third-best this century.
Zalgiris took great care of the ball, committing just 1 turnover in the first half, and finishing with only 8 for the game. Meanwhile, Olympiacos had 17 turnovers for the night.
Zalgiris has now won eight of the last 10 head-to-head games against Olympiacos, including the last five on its home floor.
Both teams will be in action again in 48 hours. Zalgiris travels to face league-leading Anadolu Efes Istanbul, while Olympiacos will be at home against defending champion CSKA Moscow.
Tuesday, February 4, 2020