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Barcelona survives Zalgiris’ pressure behind Jasikevicius’ return to Kaunas

Photo: Euroleague Basketball

Barcelona managed to get an impressive yet tough road win in Kaunas defeating Zalgiris, 62-73, on Friday night (4/12). Despite a comeback from the home side, the players of Saras Jasikevicius controlled the game, even though they committed several turnovers. Barcelona managed to keep the best 3-point shooting team very low with 2/18 3PT, something that made their task a bit more easier.

Brandon Davies was the top scorer for Barcelona with 16 points with Kyle Kuric having a convincing performance with 15 points. Jokubaitis’ 15 points were not enough for Zalgiris with Hayes and Lauvergne adding 10 each.

The Match

From the very first minutes of the match, Barcelona showed their determination on defense, with Zalgiris missing both of their offensive opportunities. Barcelona got an early 4-0 lead with Nick Calathes going coast-to-coast and scoring with an easy layup (0-4). Zalgiris was desperate to find score in this first quarter, something that happened after six minutes of play and three turnovers (2-6). Despite the fact that Zalgiris was still unable to increase their field goal percentages, the Lithuanian club closed the score with three free throws from Hayes and a great effort from Jokubaitis (9-10). Rubit tied the game with a free throw and gave Zalgiris their first lead of the match (11-10). Brandon Davies with the offensive rebound and the two points came to end Zalgiris’ 7-0 run and give back the lead to the Spanish side (11-12). With both teams improving their performance, Barcelona ended the first quarter leading by 3 points (14-17).

In the second quarter, Kuric extended Barcelona’s lead with a triple (16-22) with Zalgiris replying with two free throws (18-22). Consecutive turnovers from Barcelona gave Zalgiris the chance to score and make it a one possession game (20-22) with seven minutes remaining until the end of the first half in the Zalgirio Arena. With seven points from Kuric just in the second quarter, Barcelona retained their four-point lead (20-24), but just for a moment until Jokubaitis replies. The one man show from Kyle Kuric continued with the long range shot and 10 points in 6 minutes in the second quarter (22-27). With Jokubaitis feeding his teammates exceptionally, Zalgiris started their comeback (26-31) and closed the score even more a few minutes later (30-32). With Barcelona finding the right answers to the pressure Zalgiris was putting, both teams headed to the locker rooms with the Spanish side leading by six points (33-39).

Photo: Euroleague Basketball

Brandon Davies opened the score in the second half for Barcelona (33-41) with Higgins adding three more points after some terrific ball movement around the perimeter (33-43). Zalgiris Kaunas reminded us the team of the first quarter, committing turnovers and not finding their way to the opposite basket. Lekavicius scored for the hosts in the second half after 2 minutes of play but keeping the difference on double-digits (35-46). Barcelona seemed to do everything right, playing tough in defense forcing Zalgiris to a number of turnovers (37-48). Zalgiris tried to take advantage of the turnovers Barcelona was making, but all the effort seemed to go to waste with the one turnover following the other. Rokas Jokubaitis seemed to be the only one from which Zalgiris could find score (40-50) with Rubit trying his best on defense. Zalgiris managed to show some reaction and with a smart play from Milaknis ended the third quarter down by seven points (48-55).

In the fourth quarter, Hayes scored the first three pointer for Zalgiris forcing Barcelona to a shot clock violation and attempting to close the score even further (51-57). Walkup fired the triple, changing the momentum, with Zalgiris fighting for every possession and every play. Abrines’ triple was a breath of fresh air for Barcelona, extending their lead to nine points, despite Zalgiris’ defensive effort. Hanga scored another triple for the Spanish side securing a double-digit securing lead (56-68). Zalgiris didn’t seem to have the energy for another comeback with Barcelona closing the fourth quarter and the game, 62-73.

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