Superb results in Euroleague continue: Zalgiris wins Khimki 0

A close game was only decided in the last two minutes when Zalgiris defeated BC Khimki at home on Thursday night by 73:65 in a Group A game.

When Zalgiris jumped ahead in the first quarter, it dominated the game but a 0:13 run allowed Khimki to be back in the game and even take hold of the lead. However, in the last period, a couple of big threes by the hosts sealed the outcome.

Now Zalgiris is with a 4-1 record in the standings while Khimki drops to 2-3.

Dainius Salenga led the winners with 11 points and Tomas Delininkaitis helped with 10. For Khimki, Zoran Planinic led the way with 14 points while Kresomir Loncar and Keith Langford contributed 10 apiece. Zalgiris won the game despite having a 3-17 in the steals-turnovers ratio. A 16 of 18 from the free throw line proved crucial to take the win in front of Khimki’s 9 of 17. Zalgiris also had five blocks.

The game started in style with Raul Lopez feeding Ben Eze for the two-handed jam putting BC Khimki ahead. Zalgiris tried to alternate defenses, but Khimki was accurate in offense including a three by Keith Langford for a 2:7 start after Dainius Salenga had started the count for the hosts. Zalgiris was soon forced to call a timeout when Eze slammed the ball again for the 2:9. It had the desired effect when Mirza Begic stepped up with a three-point play and soon salenga added a jumper to make it 7:9. Sergey Monya pulled an offensive board to keep Khimki ahead but now Zalgiris could run and looked way more comfortable on court to the point that Mantas Kalnietis’ three-point play put the hosts ahead for the first time, 12:11. Zoran Planinic was now the man trying to pull Khimki in the right direction again but Tomas Delininkaitis hit a three-plus-foul for the 18:15 that brought the house down. With a couple of fast passes Zalgiris always found the rim and it was that way, from the baseline, that Kalnietis closed the first quarter with a 22:19 Zalgiris edge capping a 20:10 run for the hosts since the timeout.

A bit of luck helped Pocius open the second quarter score but it was time for Kreso Loncar now, with four straight points in the paint, to lift Khimki up to the 24:23. Despite having only one steal to seven turnovers (against a 6:2 ratio for Khimki), Zalgiris didn’t let go of the lead thanks to a solid 75% in two-point shots up to that point and flawless shooting from the charity line leading to a 30:23 lead with Salenga being the main man now in offense. Khimki tried again the Lopez-Eze connection but it was not working as well as in the first quarter this time, and it was Planinic who had to cut the 6:0 run of the hosts. Lopez and Eze insisted for a good basket now and while Zalgiris looked for one extra pass, Khimki started to recover little by little. Planinic had a big role in that recovery with four more points in a row for him, plus the defense of the guests was becoming stronger by the minute. The price however was foul trouble as both Fridzon and Monya were in the bench with three fouls each. Mindaugas Kuzminkskas kept Zalgiris ahead with free throws but Planinic replied fast with a new bucket. A few lane action from Begic allowed Zalgiris to stay out of reach in the final seconds of the quarter for the 38:33 at the break.

The second half started with Zalgiris setting the pace again and when Travis Watson had a three-point play, there was a double-digit lead on the scoreboard, 46:35. Langford sank free throws to get Khimki going, but the reply was a wide open shot by Jankunas that went in. Khimki seemed to find a way to trim the deficit through Planinic again, but Delininkaitis replied with a three. Luckily for the guests, good ball circulation allowed Lopez to hit it from downtown as well and when Loncar received in the low post to score again made it 51:46 at the half mark of the period. Another 0:4 by Khimki after a fastbreak culminated by Lopez made it a 1-point game all of a sudden, 51:50. Zalgiris was now clashing again and again to the wall set by Khimki’s defense, but the guests still could not jump ahead despite the situation. It was finally Fridzon, from the line, that put Khimki ahead again, 51:52, for the first time since the 10:11. By now, the run was 0:13 when Alexey Savrasenko scored with no opposition inside. Kalnietis broke the spell with a three to put an end to the third period with a 54:54 tie.

Fridzon opened the last period with an unbelievable three that set the stage for a fast-paced game as Jankunas killed a fastbreak with a layup for 61:59. Arturas Milaknis appeared for a crucial three for Zalgiris and Begic started to impose his law under the glass again to allow Salenga to beat the 24-second buzzer with a monster three that set the stands on fire for a 67:60 Zalgiris lead. Langford, back on court with his four fouls, tried to pull from his team in offense, but with less than three minutes to go, Fridzon missed two free throws when Khimki could not afford it. When DeJuan Collins scored for the 69:62 and under two minutes to go, it looked like the outcome of the game was sealed. Monya missed a three which allowed Zalgiris for another chance in offense but trying to run too much, Khimki almost turned the ball over. But the guests still had the possession and Langford blasted a three to make it 69:65, but Langford himself fouled out right after that. It send Collins to the line where he hit both attempts for 71:65 and 30 seconds to go. Lopez missed a last three and Collins hit more free throws to give another win to Zalgiris.