Zvezda captures first road win in Kaunas
In a nail-biter that was not decided until the last shot clanged off the back rim after the final buzzer, Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade edged Zalgiris Kaunas 59-61 on Thursday at Zalgirio Arena. Lorenzo Brown scored the go-ahead basket after an offensive rebound with 15.1 seconds remaining and Zalgiris faltered from the free-throw line late. Zvezda snapped a three-game losing streak with its first road win of the season. The result left both teams with 3-7 records. Zalgiris lost its fourth consecutive game. Billy Baron led all scorers with 14 points for Zvezda and Lorenzo brown netted 12. For Zalgiris, Edgaras Ulanovas and Marius Grigonis scored 11 points apiece and Jock Landale added 10.
Baron scored twice to give Zvezda an early lead, but Zalgiris struck back through Thomas Walkup to lead 10-4. The visitors twice closed the gap to 3, however, a driving layup by Lukas Lekavicius and a pair of free throws by Zach LeDay extended the margin to 18-11. Filip Covic drilled a triple as Zvezda once again drew within 3. Lukas Lekavicius's jumper put Zalgiris up 21-16 after 10 minutes. The start of the second quarter followed the same script with Zvezda getting within 3 and Zalgiris pulling back to 25-18 through a free throw by LeDay. Lorenzo Brown came back in and ignited the visitors on a 0-8 run capped by Ognjen Kuzmic's basket-plus-foul for a 25-26 Zvezda edge. The lead changed hands twice more before Lorenzo Brown drained a three-pointer to make it 27-31. Landale's dunk trimmed the deficit to 31-33 at the break. Lorenzo Brown assisted on the first two baskets of the second half as Zvezda went ahead by 6. A three by Landale ignited the Kaunas support and free throws by Grigonis and Lekavicius created a 7-0 run for a 38-37 edge. That was just the first of six lead changes in the third quarter alone! Mouhammad Faye scored free throws to put Zezvda up 3 before LeDay free throws made it 46-47 through three quarters. Dobric banked in a shot and Charles Jenkins sank a long jumper to put the visitors up 5 early in the fourth quarter. Landale's put-back and Lekavicius's floater tied the game at 53-53 midway through the fourth quarter. Arturas Milaknis beat the shot-clock with a go-ahead top-of-the-key three that sealed the hosts' 8-0 run. Michael Ojo scored on the offensive glass to even things at 56-56 with 2:41 remaining. Ulanovas used a spin move to put the hosts up with 1:24 to play. Faye knotted the score once more with free throws. Lorenzo Brown grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to make it 58-60 with 15.1 seconds on the clock, but Grigonis - a 92.2% career free throw shooter at that point - split foul shots with 6.4 seconds remaining and Zvezda hung on for the win.
In addition to scoring what proved to be the game-winning basket, Lorenzo Brown played an excellent all-around game to finish with 12 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal, 1 block and a performance index rating of 19. He also did many things that the stats don't show, including playing tenacious defense in the paint on switches against big men and thus discouraging Zalgiris from seeking such mismatches inside.
Entering Round 10, Zalgiris was shooting a league-best 86.0% from the free-throw line. The Lithuanian champs were let down by their foul shooting in this contest, making just 16 of 23 (69.6%). In contrast, Zvezda shot 90% (18 for 20) from the line. The other standout number was the horrendous three-point shooting by both teams; Zalgiris was 3 for 21 (14.3%) and Zvezda even worse with 3 makes from 24 tries (12.5%).
Zvezda's reserves stood tall
Zvezda played 11 players at least 10 minutes each and got plenty of production from its second unit; the Zvezda reserves produced 29 points, 20 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. Zalgiris's reserves totaled 18 points, 8 boards, 4 assists and 1 steal.
Crvena Zvezda will be at home next week in Round 11 to play Valencia Basket. Zalgiris heads to Germany for a showdown with ALBA Berlin.
Thursday, November 21, 2019