Real Madrid slipped to defeat away at Zalgiris Kaunas in round 27 of the EuroLeague. The Whites had an off day in attack and consequently were always chasing the game. Tavares, with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 20 in PIR, was the standout performer. Former Madrid player Maciulis, who won 1 EuroLeague, 1 Intercontinental Cup, 3 league titles, 2 Copa del Rey trophies and 1 Spanish Supercup with the club, was honoured at the end of the first quarter.
This was the first of a gruelling run of fixtures for Real Madrid, who face 12 matchups in the space of 36 days, and the team was not at its best in the electrifying atmosphere at the Zalgirio Arena. The Lithuanians' energy and sharper shooting, spearheaded by Lekavicius and Strelnieks, coupled with Madrid's turnovers, defined a first quarter that ended with the home side seven points up after a 14-5 run. Tavares and Poirier, with four and five points apiece, accounted for nine of Madrid's 11 points (18-11).
Madrid improve in attack
Madrid slowly began to gain more fluidity in attack, with Llull pulling the strings (Heurtel was a last minute casualty). The captain’s link-up play, first with Poirier and then Thompkins ( seven points from the American power forward in the second quarter), allowed Pablo Laso's troops to offset Zalgiris' superiority in the paint, with the hosts exploiting the offensive rebounds and punishing our team with frequent two-and-one plays. The battle went on for the second 10 minutes and, despite Madrid getting within five points on several occasions, their opponents headed into the break with 38-29 in their favour.
The madridistas showed more aggression and energy in the second half. They rediscovered their defensive qualities but could not get going in attack, where Tavares was one of the few players who continued to contribute, reaching double figures in points and rebounds in the 26th minute (40-35, min.24). Nevertheless, the team's lack of precision in offence and another Zalgiris onslaught in the final stretch of the third quarter meant that the game went into the final period at 49-37.
The deficit continued to grow in the final stages of the clash. Madrid, short of energy and unable to hit three-pointers, struggled to produce that offensive spark. Zalgiris, in contrast, gradually gained confidence and took a 20-point lead with four minutes to go. Madrid gave it a go, with Juan Núñez adding freshness, but things were not going well in attack, with only four three-pointers (68-47, min.40). Yet despite the defeat, Laso's charges are still close to clinching their place in the playoffs. The next match will be on Friday 4 March at CSKA.
ZALGIRIS KAUNAS-REAL MADRID STATISTICS