By Eurohoops Team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Cory Higgins scored 24 out of his career-high 27 points (5/5 triples) in the last 16 minutes of the game to lead Barcelona to a 93 – 86 win over Zalgiris in Kaunas and a return to victories after last week’s defeat to Olimpia in Milan.
“We stayed together. It’s very difficult to play here. They have great fans supporting them and Zalgiris is a tough team, they never give up,” Higgins said to EuroLeague TV. His team improved to 6-1 and remained at the top in the standings, tied with Milano.
“Higgins was amazing tonight. He was really hot in the fourth quarter,” Nikola Mirotic said on his teammate. Barcelona’s star forward gave a serious boost to his team in the beginning by scoring 15 out of his 24 points in the first half. He also had six rebounds.
Zalgiris didn’t go down without a fight. The hosts cut an 11-point deficit to four, 83 – 87 with 1:51 remaining thanks to a triple by Thomas Walkup (14 points, five assists) to make the game up for grabs. Mirotic and Malcolm Delaney (seven points, seven assists) proceeded to combine for a key 0-4 run for Barca, the first with 2/2 free throws and the latter with a transition layup following Walkup’s turnover.
Higgins added a bucket and Zalgiris lost the match to drop to 3-4.
“Congratulations to Barcelona. It was not the game we expected, very high-scoring for both teams. I didn’t think from our side we did enough things to win the game. Unfortunately for us we are fighting but making the same mistakes, and details are costing us 20-30 points. Probably around 30,” Zalgiris coach Sarunas Jasikevicius said.
Zach LeDay dropped a team-high 16 points for Zalgiris. Marius Grigonis added 14 points.
Consistency and defense
Barcelona coach Svetislav Pesic liked how his team behaved on the defensive end in the majority of the game. “Continuity was important in defense, how we controlled their three-pointers,” Pesic said. “In general I think we played a perfect game in defense and offense, and we only had one problem in the third quarter when we didn’t make good box outs. We had some problems with defensive rebounds when Zalgiris tried to take early shots, but it’s important that the rest of the game was very good for us. When we controlled defensive rebounds, we didn’t have any problems.
Photo: EuroLeague Basketball