Zalgiris halts Panathinaikos streak at Zalgirio arena 39
Zalgiris Kaunas used a killer third quarter to deny visiting Panathinaikos Athens the biggest winning streak of the season with an 80-74 home victory on Thursday. Zalgiris raised its record to 6-5 to stop Panathinaikos at five victories in a row and drop the visitors to 7-4.
Panathinaikos led by 10-22 early in the second quarter, after which Zalgiris outscored the guests 54-25 until the third quarter ended 64-47. Nikos Pappas hit 4 threes in the fourth quarter to get Panathinaikos within 72-67, but Zalgiris was better at the foul line all night and sealed the win there.
Paulius Jankunas led the winners with 17 points while Aaron White had 9 of his 13 in a 33-14 third-quarter onslaught by Zalgiris. Kevin Pangos had a double-double with 12 points and a career-high 11 assists for Zalgiris, while Edgaras Ulanovas pulled 11 rebounds of his team’s 37-24 advantage over Panathinaikos.
Pappas had 16 points, Chris Singleton 15, K.C. Rivers 11 and Nick Calathes 10 for the visitors, whose 17 of 30 free throw shooting hurt throughout the game, especially as they missed 7 of 11 tries to start the second half.
James Gist, who made 2 steals and committed 2 fouls in the first 2 minutes, also hit a post-up bank shot to open the scoring. Matt Lojeski’s put-back gave Panathinaikos a 0-4 lead before Pangos fired in the game’s first triple. Singleton and White exchanged three-pointers next. Antanas Kavaliauskas tied on a layup and gave Zalgiris its first lead, 8-7, with a free throw. Panathinaikos responded with great D in a 0-10 run during which Calathes scored twice before Kenny Gabriel made a tip-in at 8-17. A five-minute Zalgiris scoring drought ended with an inside basket by Brandon Davies but Singleton beat the first-quarter buzzer with a smooth triple for a 10-20 Panathinaikos lead.
Lukas Lekavicius, in his first game against his old team, opened the second quarter with a jumper, but a second-chance triple by Arturas Milaknis got a rise out of the home crowd. Dee Bost’s free throws and a jumper by Jankunas got Zalgiris within 17-22. Scoring stalled for both teams until Rivers beat the shot clock with a triple and Ulanovas put back a missed free throw at 21-25. Calathes reappeared with a floater that Pangos answered from deep. Zach Auguste and Davies traded three-point plays before a tipped-in free throw by Ulanovas ended the first half with Zalgiris having closed within 31-33.
Zalgiris started the second half with a bang as Axel Toupane reversed a fastbreak layup and Pangos lobbed to White for a go-ahead alley-oop dunk at 35-33. Calathes and Kavaliauskas traded baskets before Lojeski’s transition triple put Panathinaikos back in front, 37-39. White blasted another dunk, tipped in his own miss and then stepped out for a triple to make it 44-40 for Zalgiris. Jankunas added 4 free throws and Pangos a layup to extend the Zalgiris run to 10-0 and the lead to 50-40. Singleton got 2 free throws for Panathinaikos that Ulanovas answered with another tip-in. When Jankunas and Ulanovas scored inside, it was a 15-point difference, 57-42. Rivers revived Panathinaikos from the arc at 59-47. Pangos exited a timeout with a three-pointer and Kavaliauskas put back his miss as the Zalgirio Arena reveled in a 64-47 lead after 30 minutes.
Pappas hit an open three and a closely guarded one to suddenly lower the difference to 11 as the fourth quarter started. Jankunas responded with a jumper, but Pappas was not to be denied, and his next shot from downtown made it 66-56. Jankunas against steadied the hosts with a jumper and steal for a layup at 70-56. But Pappas measured off his fourth triple, then Rivers banked in a jumper and drilled from deep to suddenly make it 70-64. Vasilije Micic settled the home team’s nerves from the lane, but Singleton rattled in another triple for a five-point difference, 72-67, with 4 minutes left. Jankunas again hit a jumper and White downed free throws, Gist finally scored inside at 76-70, but missed his team’s 10th free throw of the game. Singleton made 3 of his next 4, between which Pangos fed Davies for a layup, leaving a 78-72 score with 1:44 to play. Free throws remained a theme as Micic made his with 36 seconds left and Gist missed 2, which sealed the win for Zalgiris.