Poythress powers Zenit past Efes
Zenit St Petersburg dominated the third quarter and held on in the fourth to defeat defending champion Anadolu Efes Istanbul 76-67 on Thursday night at Sibur Arena. Alex Poythress shined with a career-high 21 points plus 9 rebounds to lead Zenit, which matched AX Armani Exchange Milan on victories for third place and improved to 13-7 on the season. Jordan Mickey added 15 points, Billy Baron scored 13 with 5 assists and Jordan Loyd tallied 8 points and 8 assists. Vasilije Micic led the Efes attack with 22 points, but delivered only 3 assists and committed 7 turnovers. Krunoslav Simon added 17 points and Adrien Moerman scored 11. The loss dropped Efes to 10-11.
Mickey opened the scoring with a baseline jumper before Simon got Efes on the scoreboard with a floater. A long jumper by Tibor Pleiss gave Efes its first lead and Micic made it 3-6. Sergey Karasev’s triple left the teams tied after 5 minutes. Jordan Loyd fed Poythress for an alley-oop slam and finished a fastbreak with a layup in a 6-0 run that made it 12-6. Micic responded with a triple, Chris Singleton made free throws and Simon’s scoop shot gave the visitors a 14-15 edge. Baron and Rodrigue Beaubois traded threes to end the first quarter at 17-18.
The offenses heated up with Poythress wreaking havoc inside with his athleticism for Zenit and Moerman making an impact off the bench for Efes. Andrey Zubkov’s slam – Zenit’s third straight bucket courtesy of a Baron assist – made it 25-26 midway through the second quarter. Loyd drew an offensive foul at one end and made a floater at the other to pish the hosts in front. Moerman and Mickey traded threes before Micic drove for a layup and a 32-33 lead. A three by Karasev and a put-back by Poythress helped Zenit take a 37-36 halftime advantage.
Kulagin and Loyd scored the first two baskets of the second half. Poythress made free throws and an alley-oop layup to extend the lead to 45-38. Zenit’s defense held Efes to just a single Simon layup in the first 7 minutes of the third quarter, while Mickey contributed a block on one end and a layup on the other. Baron drilled a three to cap a 13-2 run that gave the hosts a 50-38 cushion. Moerman ended the Efes drought with a layup and Micic made it 52-42 through three quarters.
Zenit continued to pump its lead with a triple by Baron and a bucket by Poythress in the paint taking the margin to 15. Despite the best efforts of Bryant Dunston and Beaubois, Zenit remained in control and a three by Kulagin made it 65-48. Micic stepped up with a three and a three-point play to spark the Efes comeback. Simon followed with a three-point play to complete a 0-11 run that made it 65-59. A three by Kulagin revived Zenit with 3 minutes to go. Simon and Poythress each scored, but the clock became another factor for Efes to deal with and Zenit was able to hold on for the victory.
Poythress leads Zenit and sets career-highs
Zenit St Petersburg was shorthanded in the frontcourt with center Arturas Gudaitis injured. Accordingly, Coach Xavi Pascual called Alex Poythress into the starting lineup for the second time all season. The plan worked better than he could have hoped for as Poythress delivered career-highs in scoring and performance index rating as well as several highlight-reel dunks. Poythress shot 9 for 12 from the field and made all 3 of his foul shots for 21 points. He also had 9 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal for a PIR of 27. His previous career-highs were 16 points, accomplished three times – all last season; and 22 in PIR.
Short rotation pays dividends for Zenit
Coach Xavi Pascual relied on a short rotation against Anadolu Efes Istanbul and the decision worked out nicely. Only eight players played more than 10 minutes for the hosts and they accounted for all of the team’s points and assists and all but 2 of the rebounds. In addition to the five starters, Billy Baron (13 points, 5 assists), Andrey Zubkov (4 points, 3 rebounds) and Mateusz Ponitka (6 rebounds, 3 assists) played big roles off the bench for short-handed Zenit, which was without Conner Frankamp and Arturas Gudaitis.
By the numbers: Outside shooting sinks Efes
No number tells the story of the game better than 16, which is the percentage of three-pointers that went in for Anadolu Efes Istanbul. The visitors shot 4 for 25 from downtown, which marked a season-low in both threes made and accuracy. In contrast, Zenit St Petersburg made twice as many threes in fewer attempts (22) for a 36.4% success rate.
Zenit also had the advantage over Efes in most other stats typically attributed to guards, including assists (21-15) and turnovers (11-14). Even though Efes shot 60% on two-pointers (24 for 40), the other numbers were too much to overcome.
Thursday, January 27, 2022