Zenit rallies for OT win in Belgrade
Billy Baron and Jordan Loyd came up big against their former team on Thursday to lead Zenit St Petersburg to a 76-80 overtime win over Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade at Aleksandar Nikolic Hall. Baron scored 25 points and dished 6 assists to lead the way and Loyd scored all of his 8 points in the last minute of regulation and overtime to carry Zvezda to its fourth straight win and a 12-6 record. Jordan Mickey scored 13, Mateusz Ponitka corralled 11 rebounds and Alex Poythress grabbed 10 boards for the winners. Nate Wolters paced Zvezda with 21 points, 6 assists and 4 steals, Austin Hollins contributed 15 points, Nikola Kalinic scored 13 and Luka Mitrovic 11. The loss dropped Zvezda to 7-11 this season.
Hollins opened the scoring with an offensive rebound and three-point play for the home team before Mickey started the Zenit account with a triple. Anton Pushkov’s jumper gave Zenit its first lead, 6-7, with a jumper, but Zvezda came right back with Wolters scoring twice in a 7-0 run. After Mickey and Kalinic traded threes, Hollins fastbreak slam made it 18-10 after 5 minutes. After a timeout, Ponitka scored inside and Baron from downtown to narrow the gap. The momentum changed as Dmitry Kulagin and Sergey Karasev buried threes in a 0-8 run that put the visitors ahead 20-24. Though Aaron White split free throws, Poythress shined with a monster slam and a monster block before Andrey Zubkov beat the first-quarter buzzer with a three for a 21-29 lead.
Hollins and Wolters sandwiched threes around a shot from Baron to revive the hosts. Wolters penetrated for a layup and then his steal led to a Mitrovic score that made it 33-35. Zenit committed turnovers on three consecutive possessions while Mitrovic scored again and Hollins capped a three-chance offense with a three to give the hosts a 40-38 edge. After a timeout, Baron buried back-to-back threes to regain the lead. A jumper by Wolters made it 42-44 at the break.
Ognjen Kuzmic stepped up with a block, free throws and a three-point play early in the second half as Zvezda moved in front. Kalinic capped an 8-0 start to the half with a triple. Zubkov ended a 4-minute scoring drought for Zenit with a dunk that made it 50-46. Nikola Ivanovic’s steal and score extended the Zvezda cushion to 8. Baron answered with his fourth triple of the night. Wolters made it 57-50 in favor of the home team through three quarters.
Wolters drained a floater to extend the margin to 9 before Baron connected once again from behind the arc. Mickey also tripled, however, Marko Simonovic’s first points of the night kept Zvezda in control at 63-56. Baron twice penetrated to narrow the gap and then fed Poythress for a three-point play to get within 2. Conner Frankamp’s first bucket of the night tied it at 65-65 with 3 minutes to play. Mitrovic nudged Zvezda in front from the foul line only to see Frankamp make a tough layup to tie it again. Poythress was assessed an unsportsmanlike foul on Mitrovic with 1:19 remaining. The Zvezda power forward made the resulting free throws, but Wolters missed from deep on the resulting extra possession. Poythress made amends with an offensive rebound that led to Loyd’s first basket, a jumper in the lane that tied it at 69-69 with 37.8 seconds on the clock. Zvezda missed twice on the final possession and the game went to overtime.
Loyd hit a jumper to begin the extra period before Kalinic got the crowd involved with a three from the elbow. Mickey came to the fore with a spectacular block and 2 free throws for a 72-75 lead with 3 minutes left. Kalinic dunked off a steal, but Loyd buried a jumper on a two-chance possession. Loyd netted free throws to make it a two-possession game with 25.6 seconds remaining and Zenit held on the rest of the way.
Baron brings it in Belgrade again
Billy Baron played two seasons for Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade, including his first in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague in 2019-20 before he joined Zenit St Petersburg. The sharpshooter showed his familiarity with the hardwood in the Serbian capital with one of the finest games of his career. Baron scored a game-high 25 points on 5-of-9 three-point shooting and dished 6 assists for a PIR of 30. He was 1 point shy of his career-high, which he set with Zvezda against Zenit in December 2019. Baron’s PIR was also the second-highest of his career and he tied his career-best in assists. It was a special return to his former home.
By the Numbers: Zenit shot and rebounded well
Turnovers nearly cost Zenit St Petersburg the Round 18 game against Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade in the Serbian capital. Coach Xavi Pascual’s men turned the ball over 16 times, which was 11 more than the hosts. What’s more, Zvezda turned those turnovers into 25 points. However, in nearly every other category Zenit was stronger. The visitors outrebounded Zvezda 27-43 and shot better from all ranges; Zenit made 18 pf 29 two-pointers (62.1%), 12 of 29 threes (41.4%) and 8 of 12 free throws (66.7%). In contrast, Zvezda shot 21 for 40 on twos (52.5%), 7 for 25 from behind the arc (28%) and 13 for 22 on foul shots (59.1%).
Wolters has his best game for Zvezda in defeat
Nate Wolters set season-highs in scoring and PIR and set a career-high in steals for Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade in Thursday against Zenit St Petersburg. The 30-year-old point guard made 9 of 15 two-pointers in scoring 21 points. He also grabbed 5 rebounds, dished 6 assists and collected 4 steals for a PIR of 22. Wolters was just 2 points shy of his career-high in scoring, which he set with Zalgiris Kaunas against Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul in October 2018. His 9 two-pointers were also a personal best. Now in his fourth EuroLeague season, Wolters is averaging career-highs in scoring (12.0 ppg.), two-point shooting (59.8%) and assists (3.9 apg.) this season.
Thursday, December 30, 2021