Final 1-12 run lifts Real Madrid past Zalgiris
In an outstanding game that came down to the final shot, Real Madrid bounced back from its only loss in Group A by edging Zalgiris Kaunas 66-68 in front of almost 15,000 fans in Lithuania on Friday. Madrid improved to 5-1, while Zalgiris dropped to 3-3. Sergio Rodriguez, in his first Euroleague start since the 2012-13 season, paced the winners with 14 points. Andres Nocioni and Sergio Llull each added 11 for Madrid. James Anderson led Zalgiris with 21 points. Paulius Jankunas tallied 17 and 8 rebounds for the hosts. Jankunas hit consecutive three-pointers and added a driving layup to give Zalgiris an early 14-9 lead. Jonas Maciulis and Rodriguez fueled a 0-15 run that gave Madrid a double-digit lead, 14-24, after 10 minutes. An outstanding Anderson had 12 points in the second quarter. He got help from Arturas Milaknis and Robertas Javtokas to tie the game, 38-38, at halftime. A three-pointer by Jankunas completed the hosts' comeback, 52-49, midway through the third quarter. An outstanding Anderson and Darius Songaila made it 65-56 with less than four minutes left. Llull, Nocioni and Rodriguez combined for all the points in a 1-12 run that put Madrid back ahead, 66-68. Zalgiris had a chance to send the game to overtime, but Anderson missed a six-meter shot at the buzzer.
First quarter: Madrid shakes off slow start
Madrid head coach Pablo Laso surprised everyone by starting Sergio Rodriguez after 44 games coming off the bench. Paulius Jankunas got Zalgiris going with a three-pointer. Sergio Llull shined with a second-chance layup, but back-to-back baskets by Vytenis Lipkevicius gave the hosts a 7-2 lead. Gustavo Ayon fed Ioannis Bourousis for a layup that Jankunas bettered with his second triple. Ayon split free throws and banked in a running jumper to keep Madrid within 10-7. James Anderson stepped up with an off-balance jumper before Jonas Maciulis scored in the low post. A driving layup by Jankunas restored a 14-9 Zalgiris advantage. An inspired Maciulis struck from downtown and Rodriguez added a wild alley-oop layup to tie it at 14-14. Maciulis hit free throws and an off-balance triple by Rodriguez silenced the crowd at 14-19. Andres Nocioni joined the three-point shootout and a dunk by Maciulis capped a 0-15 run and made it a double-digit game, 14-24, after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Anderson gets Zalgiris going
Anderson scored in penetration early in the quarter and soon added a coast-to-coast layup to bring Zalgiris a bit closer, 18-24. Rodriguez kept pushing Madrid with a driving layup. Sergio Llull nailed a six-meter jumper and Nocioni caused the hosts to call timeout at 18-30. Arturas Milaknis buried a three-pointer and Anderson copied him right after that to get the crowd involved at 24-31. Salah Mejri split free throws, but Jankunas brought the hosts a bit closer, 26-32. Jaycee Carroll took over with a driving layup, as Madrid tried to power the boards with Felipe Reyes and Mejri together on court. Milaknis mailed his trademark corner triple. Reyes hit a four-meter jumper, but another driving layup by Anderson kept Zalgiris as close as 31-36. After Robertas Javtokas sank a hook shot, Reyes scored again and a seven-meter bomb by Anderson made it a 2-point game. A layup by Javtokas tied the game, 38-38, at halftime.
Third quarter: Zalgiris in charge
Rodriguez needed just 15 seconds to strike from downtown right after the break. After Lukas Lekavicius scored in transition, Ayon added a layup. A jumper by Darius Songaila kept Zalgiris within 42-43. Ayon stepped up for Madrid with a backdoor layup, as Zalgiris started to committ turnovers. Rodriguez banked in a stop-and-pop jumper that Edgaras Ulanovas erased with a layup off the baseline to make it 44-47. Anderson buried a step-back, six-meter jumper and bettered Ayon's basket with a triple that tied the game again, 49-49. Jankunas joined the three-point shootout to complete the hosts' comeback, 52-49. Carroll stepped up with a one-handed floater in the lane, but Jankunas and a big basket by Ulanovas boosted Zalgiris's margin to 55-51. Bourousis and Vaidas Kariniauskas exchanged free throws to fix the score at 57-53, at the end of the quarter
Fourth quarter: Drama till the last shot
Both teams struggled to score early in the quarter until Jankunas hit a close shot. Mejri rolled off a high post pick for a layup, as Madrid improved its defense with Mejri, Nocioni and Maciulis together on court. Nocioni split free throws, but Zalgiris found its regular go-to guy in Anderson, who scored in penetration and fed Songaila for a layup, which caused Madrid to call timeout at 63-56. Madrid called timeout and tried to use longer possessions but struggled to find good shots. Meanwhile, free throws by Songaila seemed to seal the outcome, 65-56, with over three minutes left. Llull tried to change things with a three-pointer and Nocioni also struck from downtown to bring the guests back to life at 65-62. Llull swished a rainbow shot and a layup by Nocioni put Madrid back ahead, 65-66, with 55 seconds left. Lekavicius and Maciulis exchanged missed shots and Jankunas drew a foul with 9.2 seconds left. He split his free throws and Zalgiris fouled Rodriguez, who gave Madrid a 66-68 edge with 4.8 seconds remaining. Anderson missed a six-meter shot at the buzzer, allowing Madrid to escape with a win.
Friday, November 21, 2014