Short-handed Maccabi comes up big in St. Petersburg
Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv captured its fourth straight victory by defeating Zenit St Petersburg 71-82 at Sibur Arena on Tuesday. The Israeli champs, who only dressed 10 players due to a slew of injuries, improved to 10-4 after claiming their third road win. Tyler Dorsey led all scorers with 17 points for the winners, Othello Hunter added 15 points and Elijah Byrant scored 12. Maccabi led 30-31 at halftime before taking charge with a 12-28 third quarter and leading by as many as 20. Zenit rallied late but ran out of time. Will Thomas paced Zenit with 15 points, Gustavo Ayon scored 14, Tim Abromaitis had 10 and Colton Iverson grabbed 10 rebounds. The loss dropped Zenit 3-11 to remain tied for the worst record in the league.
Quincy Acy and Byrant downed three-pointers as Maccabi rushed ahead 8-12. Dmitry Khvostov's jumper out of a timeout was answered by Bryant's second triple, but soon Thomas matched him for a 15-15 tie. Free throws by Ayon and Anton Pushkov supplied Zenit's first lead, 19-15. Maccabi came back through Dorsey to tie it at 21-21 after 10 minutes. Angelo Caloiaro made big plays at both ends, including converting a three-point play during a 0-7 run to put the visitors up 24-28. However, Zenit then held Maccabi scoreless for over 4 minutes and got tip-ins from Iverson and Ayon to regain the lead. Hunter sank 3 free throws over the final few possessions of the half to make it 30-31 at the break. Hunter scored twice in a 0-6 Maccabi start to the second half. Scottie Wilbekin's first points – a three-pointer – were followed by a Yovel Zoosman floater for the visitors' first double-digit lead, 32-42. Coach Joan Plaza called a timeout to settle the home side and Khvostov answered, but Maccabi continued to extend the lead, which reached 34-49 on Wilbekin free throws. Alex Renfroe gave the local fans what to cheer about with a three-pointer. After Caloiaro's free throws made it a 20-point game, Will Thomas beat the third-quarter buzzer with a triple that made it 42-59. Zenit continued to chip away through three-pointers by Abromaitis and Vladislav Trushkin and a put-back slam by Iverson to get within 50-64. A late 8-0 charge that included triples by Khvostov and Trushkin made it 71-77 in the final minute. But Zenit ran out of time as late free throws by Zoosman helped put the game on ice.
Yovel Zoosman did a little bit of everything for Maccabi and finished with 9 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 4 steals for a performance index rating of 16. His assist and steals totals tied his career-highs, too. He had 7 points, 2 assists and 2 steals in Maccabi's big third quarter that saw the visitors pull away for good.
Maccabi simply outshot Zenit from every range. The visitors were 20 for 35 on two-pointers (57.1%) and 8 for 18 on threes (81.8%). Zenit made only 44.4% of its twos (16 for 36) and 29.0% of its threes (9 for 31).
A milestone for Ayon
Zenit's Gustavo Ayon collected 2 steals to tie Nikola Vujcic as the all-time leader among centers with 181. And he did so with Vujcic, the Maccabi sports director, watching. Ayon did so in 154 games – 38 fewer than Vujcic had in his illustrious career. The duo is ranked 33rd on the all-time charts.
Both teams return to action on Thursday. Maccabi will take on Panathinaikos OPAP Athens back in Tel Aviv, while Zenit heads to Turkey to face Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul.
Tuesday, December 17, 2019