«Zalgiris» Kaunas, Lithuania vs. «Neptunas» Klaipeda, Lithuania
Zalgiris: The win and season record
In Week 12 of the regular season, Zalgiris Kaunas outplayed Neptunas Klaipeda at home, 111-87. The home team played a sensational first half on the way to a 20-point lead. After the break, Joan Plaza’s men continued to delight the crowd with a high-octane offense and set the new season high for points.
Zalgiris and Neptunas entered the Lithuanian derby on rather asymmetrical streaks. Kaunas had won its last five straight, while Klaipeda staggered in on a seven-game losing streak. The first few minutes developed like this: Darjus Lavrinovic and Mario Delas combined for a 9-0 run, but Kazys Maksvytis’s men refused to fold. Led by sharpshooting newcomer Valdas Vasylius, the Klaipeda representatives responded with their own 9-2 run. Next, Mindaugas Kuzminskas led his own unassisted 10-0 run in just three minutes, helping the home team to a decent lead after one period of play, 27-19.
Disappointed by their recent home loss to CSKA in the Euroleague, Zalgiris hurried to make it up to the home fans. No one considered slowing the pace and Joan Plaza’s club continued to apply pressure in the second quarter. In the end, they doubled their advantage. The Kaunas possessions could be written up in a basketball textbook: well-executed fast breaks, an active presence in the post, flawless ball movement and accurate three-point shooting. Zalgiris ended the half with a 20-point lead, 60-40.
To their credit, the visitors didn’t give up in the second half, but they couldn’t slow the home team down, either. The White and Green offense was unstoppable this evening. Zalgiris won, 111-87…We’ll talk more about their point total later.
Star of the Game
Mindaugas Kuzminskas. In 20 minutes on the court, the forward scored 17 points and grabbed seven rebounds, with only one missed field goal. Impressive efficiency. Given his performance in the first quarter and efficiency from the field, selecting Mindaugas as star of the game will raise few eyebrows.
Stat of the Game
111. Zalgiris set the record for most points scored in a game this season, passing up, ironically, Neptunas’s result earlier in the season against Tsmoki-Minsk (110-106). Over the history of the VTB United League, this is the fourth-best mark. Lietuvos Rytas lead, having scored 116 against Dnepr in 2011.
Zalgiris head coach Joan Plaza:
- I’m sure that the fans enjoyed the game: The teams scored 200 points between them. Games like this are a headache for coaches, though. I’m not happy about a lot of things. We’re playing in the VTB United League, Euroleague and Lithuanian league… the guys have trouble concentrating sometimes. It’s good that we have young players and they’re always ready to support their leaders and take initiative. If we don’t give 100%, we start to have problems. Even though we won today, we have something to work on. I’m not happy, for instance, about our rebounding under the basket.
Neptunas head coach Kazys Maksvytis:
- We faced a very strong opponent today. I’m happy that in the second half of the game my players didn’t give up, but continued to battle. On offense we played alright, 87 points, but there were a lot of problems on defense. We have to work more on that.
Zalgiris: Mindaugas Kuzminskas – 17 points, seven rebounds; Ksistof Lavrinovic, Marko Popovic – 16 points, five assists.
Neptunas: Deividas Gailius – 23 points; Valdas Vasylius – 21 points, six rebounds.