Zalgiris comes back from -20, but Pao wins on OT buzzer-beater 38
Nick Calathes beat the buzzer with a layup to lift Panathinaikos Athens over Zalgiris Kaunas 94-93 in an overtime thriller at Olympic Sports Center Athens on Thursday night.
Calathes finished with 14 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists for the Greens, who blew a 20-point second-quarter lead and an 8-point fourth-quarter lead before battling back from a 7-point deficit in overtime to claim a hard-fought win. Panathinaikos improved to 13-7, which is one win more than the Lithuanian champs. Former Zalgiris guard Lukas Lekavicius also scored 14 for the winners, as did Marcus Denmon, who netted all of his in first quarter on 4-of-5 three-point shooting. James Gist added 12 points, Ian Vougioukas collected 11 points and 8 rebounds and K.C. Rivers scored 10 for the winners.
Antanas Kavaliauskas paced Zalgiris with a career-high 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting, Aaron White scored 7 of his 17 in the overtime session, Kevin Pangos recorded 14 points and 8 assists and Axel Toupane had 12 points for the Lithuanian champs, who were without injured captain Paulius Jankunas. Pangos seemed to have won it when he made a shot in the lane with 4.7 seconds left in overtime, but that proved just enough time for Calathes to snatch the win.
Back-to-back threes by Denmon gave the Greens an early 10-3 lead. Toupane accounted for the Zalgiris offense, while Calathes added a triple and continued racking up assists – including a two-handed rim rocker by Gist, as the hosts extended the lead to 17-9. Kavaliuaskas stepped up for the visitors, however Denmon’s steal and reverse layup created a double-digit advantage. Denmon hit twice more from downtown to get the difference up to 12. After Vasilije Micic got on the scoreboard for Zalgiris, Denmon dished to Vougioukas for a jumper on the buzzer to end the first quarter with a 29-17 lead.
The Panathinaikos lead continued to swell with K.C. Rivers’s strike from downtown making it 35-21. Despite a fantastic Pangos-to- White alley-oop slam, Zalgiris was unable to keep pace with the Greens. Dinos Mitoglou sank free throws for his maiden EuroLeague points and Vougioukas took the margin to 43-23 with more free throws. Pangos came back with Zalgiris’s first triple and Edgaras Ulanovas converted a three-point play to chip away at the deficit. Zalgiris’s press forced a turnover from Calathes that led to a layup by Arturas Milaknis, which capped a 2-12 run to narrow the gap to 45-35. Kavaliuaskas got Zalgiris within 9 before Mitoglou split free throws to put 47-37 on the scoreboard at the break.
Kavaliuaskas scored inside and Toupane netted free throws as Zalgiris continued its momentum from before the break. Milaknis sank a triple that brought the Lithuanian champs within 49-45. Chris Singleton sank free throws for his first points for Panathinaikos, but the visitors did not slow down and White’s free throws made it 51-48 midway through the third quarter. After Vougioukas dunked, Milaknis nailed his second three-pointer and Toupane’s layup in transition tied the game at 53-53. Brandon Davies split free throws to give Zalgiris its first lead since the first minute, 55-56. Nikos Pappas’s bank shot at the buzzer ended the third quarter with the hosts ahead 59-58.
Lekavicius scored on Panathinaikos’s first two possessions of the fourth quarter to make it 64-60, but Micic soon tied it again. However Singleton erupted with 3 free throws and a three-pointer in a 7-0 Panathinaikos run that made it 71-64. After a Zalgiris timeout, Kavaliauskas scored inside, but Lekavicius nailed a three at the other end. Kavaliauskas remained a force in the paint and got his team within 76-72. After a Pangos three and a Kavaliauskas post up, it was a 1-point game. White gave Zalgiris its first lead of the fourth quarter, 78-79, with a layup with 87 seconds remaining. Pangos and Rivers traded threes and Rivers scored a game-tying layup that made it 83-83 with 17 seconds on the clock. Zalgiris could not score on the final possession and the game went to overtime.
White struck from behind the arc on the first play of the extra session, sank 2 free throws on the second and banked in a shot on the third for a personal 0-7 run to start overtime. Calathes tried to get Panathinaikos going with a pair of free throws and Gist scored inside to make it 87-90. Ulanovas missed a pair of free throws and Pappas punished him with a layup. After a Zalgiris timeout, Gist stole an inbounds pass and took it in for a go-ahead slam. Milaknis split free throws to tie it at 91-91 with 59 seconds remaining. Rivers split free throws with 17 seconds left. Zalgiris turned to Pangos, whose jumper with 4.7 seconds on the clock put his team ahead 92-93, but that was just enough time for Calathes to race down court and beat the buzzer with a game-winning layup.