Caja Laboral edged Zalgiris 89-95
Caja Laboral boosted its Top 16 chances with an 89-95 overtime road win over Zalgiris on Wednesday at S.Darius and S. Girenas Sport Center in Kaunas, Lithuania. The visitors were led by a pair of brilliant individual shows as Mirza Teletovic tied the Euroleague single-game three-point record with 9 and Marcelinho Huertas came within 1 of equaling the Euroleague assist record by dishing 13. Zalgiris impressed equally by coming back from a 19-point halftime deficit and a double-digit hole in the fourth quarter to force overtime in new-old head coach Rimantas Grigas’s first game back with the team. However Zalgiris was unable to ever take the lead and dropped to 5-4 in the standings. Zalgiris will still advance to the Top 16 this week if Maccabi Electra defeats BC Khimki on Thursday. Laboral improved to 4-5 and controls its destiny heading into a Week 10 home date against Partizan. Teletovic finished with a career-high 32 points plus 8 rebounds to lead Laboral. He started hot making 7 of 8 threes and scoring 26 in the first half and finished shooting 9 for 13 from downtown. Stanko Barac and Fernando San Emeterio both played more than 40 minutes and each scored 21, while Brad Oleson added 12. Paulius Jankunas led Zalgiris with 17 points and Mirza Begic, Mantas Kalnietis, Marty Pocius and Arturas Milaknis added 10 each.
Four different Caja Laboral players scored and a fifth – Marcelinho Huertas – dished 3 assists as the visitors started the game with a 0-9 blitz. Zalgiris did not get its first basket until Travis Watson got to the line for a couple of free throws and got hold of a loose ball for a layup. Tadas Klimavicius followed with a nice reverse and the hosts were back in it at 6-9. Caja Laboral combined Teletovic’s three-point shooting with good penetration by Huertas and San Emeterio and the latter scored a three point play to make it 10-21. Begic got going with a layup for the hosts, but it was Laboral applying the offensive pressure thanks to some prime court vision by Huertas, who tallied 6 assists in the opening quarter and fueled a 4-15 run en route to a 10-24 advantage. Zalgiris was able to force a couple of turnovers and rebounds by the end of the period, though, and finished on a better note after Mantas Kalnietis assisted Tomas Delininkaitis on a fast break layup to make it 16-27.
Watson scored on another to start the second, but Teletovic was feeling it from beyond the arc, and he hit his fifth triple in 5 tries and got the visitors up to 22 -35. Zalgiris tried to counter with Klimavicius’s inside presence, but Nemanja Bjelica joined the three-point fest to get Laboral its biggest lead yet, 24-40. Teletovic finally missed his first three-point attempt and Bjelica scored inside, but the visitors kept moving the ball sharply and Teletovic netted his 26th point with another long range bomb, his 7th in 8 tries, to make it 33-52 at halftime.
In contrast to Teletovic’s long range prowess, Zalgiris had not hit a triple in the first 20 minutes, but finally netted its first through Milaknis and scored 7 straight points to get back within reaching distance. The hosts went to the pick-and-roll often, as Milaknis, Jankunas and Delininkaitis feasted on the open looks for 5 triples in the quarter. With Zalgiris stretching the visitors’ defense, Begic was able to break free for a dunk off a Delininkaitis assist to get within 58-62. Suddenly, the hosts were back in it and with momentum swinging their way, but Oleson was able to shake free for a triple and Caja Laborol defended the quarter’s last possession well, forcing a DeJuan Collins turnover and capitalizing on a breakaway dunk by Barac to enter the last quarter with a double digit lead, 60-70.
Barac the hit a jumper to start the fourth and David Logan added another to give the visitors a 14-point cushion as Logan slowed the pace down and Laboral played strong defense down the stretch, holding Zalgiris to just 5 points in the quarter’s first six minutes. Zalgiris forced a timeout by the visitors after a triple by Pocius and a layup by Milaknis tightened the margin to 69-78. Huertas seemed to give the hosts some breathing room again with a nifty assist for a Barac dunk in traffic, restoring a double-digit Laboral lead. The Zalgiris defense never let up, keeping Teletovic scoreless in the second half, and the attack broke through to lead the hosts back again. Veteran Dainius Salenga led the charge, first drilling a three-pointer and then penetrating for a basket-plus foul as a the excitement in the building grew. Delininkaitis missed a deep three, but Watson was there to scoop up the rebound and bring his team within a three-point shot. Teletovic went for a three, but missed and Kalnietis wrapped up a run of 11 unanswered points to tie the score at 80-80 with a minute left. The Zalgiris fans went from ecstasy to fear as the ball switched hands in the closing minute, but neither team scored. Laboral had chances, first Oleson missing a three, then Teletovic a second chance and after an offensive rebound and a timeout, Huertas’s pass inside could not be controlled by Barac. Zalgiris and the ball with 1.9 second left and tried to win it, but Delininkaitis’s three was off-target.
Laboral got back on top when Oleson banked in a desperation three as the 24-second clock expired. The momentum seemed to shift Laboral’s way when Jankunas missed from downtown and Huertas found Barac inside. Jankunas gave the hosts a push and Teletovic missed from the top of the key. Delininkaitis’s steal and layup charged the crowd and made it 84-87. But Teletovic knocked down a three – his first since the second quarter – at the midway point of the overtime period to push the lead to 6. Pocius drove for a score and Jankunas narrowed the gap to a basket with a pair of free throws. With another Zalgiris comeback looming, Teletovic stepped up with a clutch three – tying the record – with just under a minute remaining. San Emeterio added to the lead with a slam. Pocius got to the line and made 1 free throw, but it was too little, too late as Laboral held the ball and killed the clock for a crucial win.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010