Larkin, Micic lead Efes past Zalgiris
Anadolu Efes Istanbul grabbed its ninth consecutive win in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague by downing Zalgiris Kaunas 96-91 at Sinan Erdem Dome on Thursday. Efes improved to 21-3 in the standings and could become the first team to qualify to the playoffs if Friday's results go its way. Zalgiris dropped to 9-15 and saw its three-game winning streak come to an end. Shane Larkin led the winners with 25 points, all in the second half. Vasilije Micic added 22, while Tibor Pleiss and Krunoslav Simon each had 15 for Efes. Zach LeDay paced Zalgiris with 22 points, K.C. Rivers added 20, Edgaras Ulanovas 12 and Nigel Hayes 11. Zalgiris shot well from downtown all game to lead 56-65 late in the third quarter. Larkin led a 7-0 run that brought Efes within 63-65 entering the fourth and Rodrigue Beaubois, Simon and Larkin stepped up in crunch time to win it for Efes.
Ulanovas and Thomas Walkup each struck from downtown to get Zalgiris going. Hayes added a jumper to cap an 0-8 opening run before Pleiss stepped up with a put-back layup. Simon hit a floater that Martinas Geben erased with a layup. Larkin started to get his teammates involved, finding Micic for a three-pointer and Pleiss for a jumper. Arturas Milaknis buried a triple, but Simon scored again and Pleiss added a three-point play to give the hosts their first lead, 14-13. Hayes and Micic exchanged triples before Geben dunked for a 17-18 Zalgiris lead. Micic scored in penetration, but Lukas Lekavicius kept Zalgiris ahead, 19-20, after 10 minutes. Micic and Chris Singleton hit consecutive three-pointers early in the second quarter, causing the visitors to call timeout at 25-20. Lekavicius answered from downtown and fed LeDay for a dunk to tie it at 25-25. Beaubois rescued Efes with back-to-back bombs from beyond the arc and Singleton hit a jumper, but Zalgiris did not panic. Rivers nailed three consecutive triples and got help from Walkup and LeDay to give the visitors a 35-40 margin. Micic stepped up with a layup-plus-foul and Pleiss hit a jumper for a 40-40 tie, but a red-hot Rivers downed another three-pointer for a 40-43 Zalgiris lead at halftime.
Hayes struck from downtown immediately after the break and Ulanovas added a driving basket to boost his team's lead to 42-48. Pleiss downed a jump hook and Larkin found his first points in a 6-0 run that Micic capped with a jumper that tied it at 48-48. Ulanovas and Hayes each nailed one from beyond the arc to give Zalgiris fresh air at 50-54. Pleiss and LeDay traded layups and then Ulanovas downed a running hook, which caused Efes to stop the game at 52-58. Simon banked in a close shot and Micic matched Lekavicius's jumper with a driving layup. LeDay became the seventh Zalgiris player to hit a three-pointer and Ulanovas gave the visitors a 56-65 lead. Micic and Larkin kept pushing Efes, leading a 7-0 run that brought the hosts within 63-65 after 30 minutes. Rivers splashed another one from deep range early in the fourth quarter. Larkin downed a turnaround jumper, but LeDay improved on that with a triple for a 65-71 Zalgiris lead with 7 minutes left. Simon and Larkin combined for all the points in an 8-0 spurt that put Efes ahead, 73-71. LeDay insisted from beyond the arc, but Beaubois scored in penetration and Simon added a wild three-point play that boosted the hosts' lead to 78-74. LeDay scored twice in the paint, but Singleton answered with a three-point play and Simon added a triple that sealed the outcome, 85-78, as Zalgiris did not recover in the final 2 minutes.
Vasilije Micic was all over the place all game long, leading Efes to a big win against his former team. He finished the game with 22 points on 5-of-9 two-point shots, 3-of-5 three-pointers and 3-of-3 free throws, adding a rebound, 3 assists, a steal and 3 fouls drawn for a PIR of 19.
A three-pointer by Zach LeDay gave Zalgiris its last lead, 73-74. Rodrigue Beaubius stepped up when it mattered most with a driving basket, then Krunoslav Simon and Chris Singleton added consecutive three-point plays which allowed Efes to take off, 82-76, as the hosts kept full control of the game through free throw accuracy until the final buzzer.
Efes hit 23-of-28 two-point shots (60.5%) and limited Zalgiris to just 12-of-24 (50%). Efes committed just 9 turnovers and forced Zalgiris into 14.
Did you notice?
Zalgiris made 19 three-point shots, a new club record. Zalgiris had made 14 three-point shots seven times in the past, the last time against Olympiacos Piraeus barely 48 hours before this game. It tied the second-best mark in competition history and was a season-high. The record belongs to Buducnost VOLI Podgorica, which downed 21 three-point shots against KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz on November 15, 2018.
Both teams return to Turkish Airlines EuroLeague action in two weeks. Zalgiris visits KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz on Thursday, February 20. Efes travels to Germany to face FC Bayern Munich the following evening.
Thursday, February 6, 2020