VTB United: Zalgiris downs CSKA at home

In a battle of the top two clubs in Group B of the VTB United League, Zalgiris Kaunas took to the road Sunday to face CSKA Moscow and came away with a 68:74 victory to move ahead of the Russian club in the standings based on winning percentage. Zalgiris is one game behind CSKA in games played, having only hit the hardwood 12 times in the VTB with their game 13 coming against Group B No. 6 Triumph on Tuesday. CSKA has 13 games in and now sport an 11-2 record, while Kaunas sits at 11-1.

In the first quarter, Milos Teodosic knocked down eight of CSKA’s first 10, a feat equaled by Zalgiris’ Vyitenis Lipkevicus. CSKA was able to run off eight unanswered to build a six-point lead and at the end of the first 10, CSKA was up, 21:16.  After exchanging deuces, Zalgiris was able to put up seven unanswered to knot the score at 25. Teodosic nailed a triple and Sonny Weems dropped in two singles to get a five-point margin back, which is how it ended at the end of the 20th minute, 38:33.

VTBOpening up the third the guests got the first six, four from Tremmell Darden and two from Marko Popovic to get the lead, 38:39. CSKA’s Nenad Krstic dropped in a jumper to regain the lead, but Zalgiris then knocked off seven unanswered to get up by six, 40:46, mid-way through the frame. Vladimir Micov sliced the cords with a triple to cut the margin in half, then Alexander Kaun cut it to one when he found an opening in the defense and sank a lay-up. Through the rest of the frame CSKA used the long-ball to tally up another nine, while Zalgiris got their points inside with a lay-up, tip-in and a short jumper. When the horn sounded on the third 10 the margin was two, still in CSKA’s favor, 54:52.

The final stanza belonged to the guests as they dominated the hosts from the inbounds. Darjus Lavrinovic got things started with a dunk and Mindaugas Kuzminskas sank a three-ball to give the visitors a three-point margin. Krstic sank two singles for CSKA and then Zalgiris ran off nine straight to get up by 10, 56:66. Krstic hit a jumper that was countered by Adas Juskevicius’s deuce. Teodosic and Victor Khryapa both hit a pair of singles, followed by a Weems dunk to cut the gap to four, 64:68 with 1:23 to play. CSKA got to within four twice, but Popovic went four of four from the stripe to preserve the win for Zalgiris.

The results put Zalgiris at the top of Group B ahead of CSKA. Lokomotiv Kuban  sits at No. 3 after a 75:74 win over No. 5 Nizhny Novgorod. VEF Riga is No. 4 and plays Enisey Monday in their Week 13 game. Triumph brought their record to 6-6 with an 80:66 win over winless Minsk-2006 on Saturday. They play their Week 13 match on Tuesday against Zalgiris.

Group A is led by Spartak St. Petersburg at 9-2, who takes on No. 4 Khimki on Monday. No. 3 Krasnye Krylya snuck by No. 9 Turow Zgorzelec 81:77. No. 4 Unics Kazan picked up a road win over N0. 8 BC Kalev/Cramo 52:70. No. 4 Lietuvos Rytas put a beat down on the No. 6 Astana Tigers 83:66. No. 7 Donetsk beat No. 10 Azovmash Mariupol 83:66.

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