Zenit hits from long range to run past Efes
Zenit St Petersburg hit 14 three-pointers en-route to running away with a 79-90 road win against reigning EuroLeague champion Anadolu Efes Istanbul on Friday at Sinan Erdem Dome. Zenit improved to 5-3 on the season, while Efes dropped to 2-6. Zenit took control with a 2-13 second-quarter run, then blew the game open with a 0-12 spurt after halftime that had the visitors up 40-66 midway through the third quarter. Conner Frankamp paced Zenit with 18 points. Mindaugas Kuzminskas scored 15, while Billy Baron and Jordan Mickey added 10 apiece. Shane Larkin finished with 14 points for Efes. Tibor Pleiss scored 13, Rodrigue Beaubois had 11, while Elijah Bryant and Adrien Moerman each scored 10 in a losing effort.
Krunoslav Simon scored the first 6 points for Efes, while Frankamp scored twice for the visitors. Jordan Loyd banked an off-balance triple to make it 6-9, but Pleiss responded with 6 consecutive points to put Efes ahead 15-11. Baron and Moerman traded triples, but a three-pointer from Mickey and a three-point play from Alex Poythress put Zenit up 20-22 after 10 minutes. Denis Zakharov opened the second quarter with a triple. Filip Petrusev had a pair of dunks, then traded triples with Zakharov, but Zenit followed with a 0-7 run in which Kuzminskas scored 5 points, including a triple, to make it 27-37. Petrusev snapped Zenit’s run, but back-to-back threes from Kuzminskas and Baron extended its lead to 29-43. The lead reached 16 points before the visitors took 33-47 into the break.
Beaubois hit a three for Efes to open the third quarter, but Zenit continued dominating. Loyd dished to Arturas Gudaitis for a dunk to spark a 0-12 run that saw Mateusz Ponitka score a fastbreak layup, Loyd nail a jumper and Frankamp make a pair of transition triples for a 36-61 advantage. A triple from Ponitka then opened a 26-point gap. Moerman sparked some hope for Efes midway through the third with a three-pointer, and Bryant fought for a put-back, but Frankamp's triple kept the hosts at bay and Zenit took a 51-73 lead into the fourth quarter. Shane Larkin downed a three and a fastbreak layup for Efes early in the fourth. After Kuzminskas nailed another one from long range for Zenit, Bryant and Larkin combined for 6 points to cut the difference to 62-78. But Frankamp soon beat the shot-clock with an off-the-dribble triple to restore a 20-point margin, 62-82 with 5:20 to go. Larkin and Beaubois scored more, and Larkin hit a triple to make it 73-86 with under 2 minutes to go, but the visitors closed out the game, never allowing the shots to get closer than 9 points.
Threes spur a key run
The two teams traded punches in the first quarter, but Zenit scored the last 6 points in the first quarter, with a triple from Jordan Mickey followed by a three-point play from Alex Poythress. Then Zenit’s shooters caught fire, nailing their first 5 three-point attempts of the second quarter. Denis Zakharov hit a pair of them even before Zenit went on a 2-13 run during which Midaugas Kuzminskas had 2 of his own and Billy Baron hit another with hands in his face. In total, 6 three-pointers on 6 attempts during a 9-27 spurt that turned Efes's 20-16 lead into 29-42 advantage for Zenit.
Zenit's key performers: Frankamp and Kuzminskas
Conner Frankamp shined in the second half at the Sinan Erdem dome. The Zenit playmaker scored 14 of his game-high 18 points in the second half, making 4 of 6 three-pointers and 3 of 4 twos while dishing 3 assists. Frankamp had averaged 6.6 points and had a total of 4 assists before this game, but he was not the only Zenit player performed way above his season numbers.
Zenit forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas entered this game having scored a total of 13 points in the first seven games of the season. Tonight, Kuzminskas netted 15 points, making 3 of 6 triples and 2 of 3 two-pointers to go with his 5 rebounds and 2 steals.
Chris Singleton entered the game at the start of the second quarter, and at that moment set the EuroLeague all-time record for consecutive games played. Singleton has never missed a EuroLeague game ever since he made his competition debut in October 2015. He has made 210 appearances in his career so far, and took sole possession on this all-time least, breaking a record held by Nikos Zisis, who played 209 consecutive games between the 2006-07 and 2018-19 seasons.
Singleton becomes the second Efes player who holds an all-time EuroLeague record. Currently injured center Bryant Dunston is the all-time leader in blocks with 275 for his career. In addition, Shane Larkin holds a single-game record with 49 points and 10 three-pointers made, the latter of which he achieved twice.
Friday, November 5, 2021