ASVEL keeps momentum, beats Zvezda on road
LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne picked up more momentum in its fight to make the playoffs as it collected a thrilling 78-81 road victory against Crvena Zvedza mts Belgrade. ASVEL gave up a 15-point lead but was carried to the win by Norris Cole, who tallied 15 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter. Antoine Diot scored 14 points and Amine Noua chipped in 12 as ASVEL won its third straight game and fourth in five contests for a 9-14 record. Corey Walden and Ognjen Dobric both scored 17 points and Landry Nnoko added 12 for Zvezda. But it was not enough and the Serbian club dropped its fourth loss in the last five games for a 7-12 record.
David Lighty scored inside to start the game for ASVEL before Nnoko answered with the hosts’ first six points. But Lighty and Diot both hit from deep as ASVEL went ahead 11-14. Walden responded with a triple to start an 8-0 spurt to move ahead 19-14. Diot connected again from the outside as did Noua to even the game before Matthew Strazel made it 23-25 after 10 minutes. Dejan Davidovac started the second quarter but Strazel drained the second of back-to-back three-pointers to start a 2-17 run, including triples from William Howard and Diot, for a 30-45 advantage. The hosts picked up its defense and kept ASVEL scoreless for the final 3:40 minutes of the first half, which saw Dobric score 5 points to get Zvezda within 38-45 at the break.
Jordan Loyd started the second half to trim the deficit to five points, only for Cole to answer with a three-pointer. Cole added two more baskets and the guests were up 46-55. Zvezda locked it down again and went on a 10-2 run over nearly 5 minutes to pull within 56-57 after 30 minutes. The surge continued to start the final frame with Duop Reath making it 60-57, before Diot hit an inside shot to stop the rut for ASVEL. Cole took over with the next seven ASVEL points while Dobric had five at the other end, and the lead switched hands a sixth straight time when Davidovac hit a jumper for 67-66 and Dobric’s triple made it 72-68. ASVEL fought back with Noua hitting a triple and then Cole putting the guests back ahead. That started a wild final 3 minutes as Walden and Cole traded big baskets with Cole’s score for 78-79 being the seventh lead change in that stretch. Dobric and Loyd missed for Zvezda and then Cole was off on his jumper but Howard came up with a huge offensive rebound. The ball ended up in Cole’s hands and he hit two free throws with 5.0 seconds to play for a 78-81 lead. Loyd missed two three-pointers in the waning seconds in an attempt to force overtime.
Back and forth in fourth
The fourth quarter was not easy for those with a faint heart as the lead changed hands 13 times to go along with two ties.
Norris Cole showed the pedigree of a two-time NBA champion as he scored 15 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter, to go with a crucial defensive rebound with 31 seconds left and then two free throws with 5.0 seconds remaining to ice the win
ASVEL shot the lights out, hitting 60.6% on 2-pointers as well as 50.0% on three-pointers, which helped make up for losing the second-chance points 22-6. Zvezda took the rebounding advantage to the tune of 31 to 21, but it wasn’t enough.
Zvezda’s next game is on the road as the team will head to Lithuania to face off against Zalgiris Kaunas next Thursday. ASVEL will return home and take on AX Armani Exchange Milan on Friday.
Friday, January 29, 2021