Real Madrid returned from this week's EuroLeague double-header with a win (against Bayern on Tuesday) and a defeat, the one against Zalgiris. Mistakes and the Lithuanian intensity prevented Chus Mateo's team, whose most outstanding players were Musa (22 points) and Hezonja (17), from winning. Tavares became the all-time leading blocker in the Euroleague (321).
The team landed at the Zalgiris Arena knowing what they were going to find, which was 15,000 fans against them and an opponent that is always intense, giving their all every time they had possession. Madrid got off to a good start, led by Musa (7 points) and Hezonja (6) and Tavares (6). The centre had two blocks, the first of which made him the all-time leading blocker in the competition. The second left the score at 18-21 in the 10th minute against a Zalgiris team which was superior in offensive rebounding and three-pointers.
Second quarter with fits and starts
But Madrid could not find continuity in defence and continued to suffer in terms of rebounding at their own hoop. Additionally, in attack they suffered from a lack of distance shooting, which allowed the Lithuanians to take the initiative in the game. They took a 5-point lead on two occasions but Madrid reacted thanks to Lull (3 assists) who connected with Poirier (a dunk and a spectacular dunk) and the first two three-pointers, made by Musa and Hezonja (37-35, 20th minute).
Video.81-72: Madrid lose in Kaunas
Evans made it +7 in favour of Zalgiris in the 24th minute (45-38). A time-out by Chus Mateo had the desired effect and his team turned the score around in the next two minutes. Hezonja and Musa took the offensive helm while Tavares did the same in defence. The Cape Verdean continued notching up blocks to his tally with two more and battled in the paint like a behemoth. The pity is that after a 5-17 run that put Madrid 50-55, Ulanovas emerged from 6.75 (56-55, 30th minute).
Lots of Mistakes
Madrid had to deal with an opponent that was going all out. Cavanaugh's three-pointers made things difficult for our team, who responded with contributions from Poirier, Llull and Hezonja. However, Zalgiris upped their intensity a notch and by recovering possession with offensive rebounds and taking advantage of the visitors' mistakes, went into the last minute and a half with an advantage of 74-66 after a controversial unsporting foul on Tavares. The team made a last-ditch attempt but missed several free throws and ended up losing the game (81-72, 40th minute).
SKAUNAS- REAL MADRID STATISTICS