Zenit wins again in Kaunas
Zenit St Petersburg won its second straight road game to start the season and improved to 5-0 all-time against Zalgiris Kaunas with a 64-70 victory at Zalgirio Arena on Thursday night. Jordan Loyd scored a game-high 19 points to lead the winners – including a key jump shot and 2 free throws in the final 30 seconds to hold off a late Zalgiris rally. Billy Baron added 11 points and Mateusz Ponitka tallied 6 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists for Zenit, which held its opponent below 70 points for the second game in a row. Janis Strelnieks led the Zalgiris attack with 14 points and Joffrey Lauvergne and Lukas Lekavicius scored 10 points apiece. Lekavicius also delivered 6 assists.
Lauvergne dunked just 4 seconds from the opening tip and scored twice more as the hosts jumped ahead 6-2. Connor Frankamp was left open long enough to drill a three that gave Zenit the lead. A series of Zalgiris turnovers prompted an early timeout, but the hosts struggled to find their scoring touch. A mid-range jumper by Loyd made it 8-13. Lekavicius got going for Zalgiris with an alley-oop assist to Josh Nebo and a floater. Free throws by Baron gave the visitors a 16-21 edge after 10 minutes. Baron padded the lead with a triple, however, Edgaras Ulanovas revived Zalgiris with a 4-point play. Alex Poythress kept Zenit in control. Fresh off the bench, Lauvergne's reverse layup made it 25-31 midway through the second quarter. Sergey Karasev became the fourth Zenit player to score from behind the arc and Poythress gave the visitors a double-digit lead, 25-35, from the line. After a three by Strelnieks and a slam by Lauvergne, Coach Pascual called timeout for Zenit. Loyd and Strenieks each scored to send the teams to halftime at 34-40.
Despite losing Lauvergne to an injury early in the third quarter, back-to-back threes by Ulanovas and Strelnieks changed the momentum and a floater by Lekavicius tied the game at 42-42. Emmanuel Mudiay's mid-range jumper – his first points of the game – gave Zalgiris its first lead since the first quarter, 47-46. Loyd answered with a three and Zenit protected and extended the lead. A pretty move by Lekavicius made it 51-55 at the end of the third quarter. Loyd and Baron combined for the first 5 points of the fourth quarter as Zenit threatened to pull away. Andrey Zubkov's second three of the game made it 53-63. Josh Nebo did his best to ignite Zalgiris with a pair of blocks on defense and a mid-range basket. Lekavicius carved up the Zenit defense to get within 60-65 with less than 2 minutes remaining. After a defensive stand, Nebo split free throws with 49 seconds remaining and Loyd's jumper in the lane all but secured the victory.
Loyd leads the way for Zenit
Jordan Loyd starred for Zenit with 19 points to lead all scorers. He scored 8 of his team's 15 in the fourth quarter, including a key jumper with 27 seconds left and 2 free throws with 9.9 seconds on the clock to hold off a late Zalgiris charge. Loyd made 6 of 8 two-point shots and 1 of 3 threes. He was perfect in 4 trips to the free-throw line and added an assist and a steal, too. After finishing third in the league in scoring last season with Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade with 17.3 points per game, Loyd is off to a fine start with Zenit.
Zenit wins the hustle stats
Zenit built its early lead against Zalgiris by capitalizing on several first-quarter turnovers and finished the game with 10 steals and 9 turnovers. In contrast, Zalgiris had just 2 steals and 14 turnovers. Zenit scored 10 points off Zalgiris's turnovers, compared to just 5 for Zalgiris. Zenit also outscored Zalgiris 9-2 in fastbreak points. Those numbers made the difference in a game that saw the teams divide the rebounds evenly (32-32) and in which Zalgiris shot slightly better from the field.
Zalgiris honored Seibutis
During the first timeout of the game in the first quarter, Zalgiris introduced former player Renaldas Seibutis, who received a standing ovation from the crowd on the occasion of his retirement. Seibutis played the final two of his six EuroLeague seasons with Zalgiris in 2015-16 and 2016-17. He helped Zalgiris win the Lithuanian League and Cup double in the second of those seasons. Seibutis also played two seasons each with Olympiacos Piraeus and Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius. An All-EuroCup First team selection with Rytas in 2012, Seibutis won a pair of EuroBasket medals and two World Cup medals with the Lithuanian national team.
Thursday, October 7, 2021