Zenit holds off Khimki on the road
Zenit St Petersburg used a huge third quarter to pull away towards and then hold onto another road win, edging its fellow Russian rival Khimki Moscow Region 81-83 on Friday. Zenit improves to 5-13, while Khimki lost its third consecutive game to drop to 8-10. Zenit took the lead at the start of the third quarter, and never relinquished it. The visitors extended the gap to double figures by allowing just 11 points in the third quarter, and Zenit led 48-64 early in the fourth. Khimki needed just 5 minutes to rally within a single possession behind Alexey Shved and Janis Timma, but Zenit held on. Will Thomas had 20 points and 8 rebounds, Austin Hollins netted 15 points while Mateusz Ponitka collected 12 points and 8 rebounds in victory. Shved finished with 30 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds. Timma had 17 points and Jonas Jerebko had 10 points, 6 rebounds and 4 steals in a losing effort.
Khimki got it going with Devin Booker inside and Shved connecting twice from downtown during an 8-0 run, but Zenit quickly answered. Close-range baskets from Ponitka who fueled a 2-10 run, capped by a low-post bucket by Thomas to made it 12-14. Thomas added a dunk late in the first, and a long jumper early in the second quarter to open a 15-20 lead. Anthony Gill hit a corner triple for the hosts, but Hollins and Thomas scored inside and Andrew Albicy nailed one from the outside to make it 20-29. Albicy hit another long-range dagger, but Timma nailed a triple followed by 5 points from Jerebko, including a three-pointer that tied it at 32-32. Another three from Timma helped Khimki take 37-36 into halftime, but Zenit went back in front early in the third with back-to-back three-pointers from Hollins sparking a 0-8 run to make it 41-46. Tim Abromaitis beat the shot clock with a triple to establish a 44-54 margin midway through the third quarter before the scoring slowed down. Andrey Zubkov's corner three-pointer made it 48-61 at the end of the third quarter and Abromaitis opened the fourth with a three-pointer to extend the lead to 16 points. But Timma answered with a jumper-plus-foul and followed it up with a triple, before Stefan Jovic sparked a 10-0 run during which Shved nailed a pair of three-pointers to cut it within 64-67. Ponitka snapped the hosts' run with a pair of baskets inside, as the rhythm and scoring picked up. Shved and Booker closed the gap, but Hollins strung together 5 points, including a triple, to make it 68-76 with 4 minutes to go. Ponitka dominated the offensive boards to help Zenit stay in front, then had a fast break dunk that helped the visitors take 72-78 into the final minute before closing the game out.
Key third quarter
Zenit turned a 37-36 half-time deficit into a 13-point lead in the third quarter. During those 10 minutes Zenit outscored Khimki 11-25. The visitors hit 5-for-8 from three-point range, had 13 rebounds, including 6 on offense, and dished 8 assists. Khimki was 1-for-6 from downtown, had just 5 rebounds and 2 assists in the third quarter.
Zenit is one of three teams at the bottom of the standings with a 5-13 record, but four of those wins have come on the road. The first two came in overtime at Olympiacos Piraeus and Zalgiris Kaunas, while the last two at Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul and now Khimki were by a combined margin of 5 points.
Crashing the boards
Zenit entered the game scoring a league-low average of 73.4 points, but it went over 80 points for the fifth time this season with all of those performances coming on the road. Zenit also entered the game ranked top of the charts with 12.0 offensive rebounds per game and pulled down 13 in this contest, 9 of which came in the second half.
Next week Round 19 tips off on Tuesday when Khimki hosts Valencia Basket. A day later, Zenit welcomes KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Friday, January 10, 2020