Rivers inspires record-setting Zenit to destroy Zvezda
Zenit St Petersburg set numerous records in destroying Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 98-69 on Tuesday night. The home side led 30-12 at the end of the first quarter and never looked back, despite Zvezda briefly getting closer with a 0-13 run to bridge the second and third quarters. Zenit enjoyed a 12-0 run early in the second half and Zvezda never threatened again. KC Rivers led the way with 7-of-8 three-point shooting in his total of 23 points, while Kevin Pangos added 17, Billy Baron scored 13 and Arturas Gudaitis netted 12. Johnny O’Bryant (13 points) and Dejan Davidovac (10) offered some resistance for Zvezda. Zenit (9-5) protected its place in the playoffs zone, while Zvezda dropped to 5-11.
Three-pointers from Will Thomas and Pangos sent Zenit racing ahead, before Ognjen Dobric’s tip-in got Zvezda on the scoreboard. Two more baskets for Pangos made it 11-2 and he soon added his third triple for a double-digit lead. O’Bryant’s triple made it closer, but Pangos drove to score again and Andrey Zubkov scored twice for a 21-11 advantage. Gudaitis added a pair of buckets, including a three-point play, and Baron struck a long two to make it 30-12 after 10 minutes. Baron made a trio of free throws to take the lead past 20 points and Alex Poythress dunked twice before Baron struck from deep as the lead kept growing. Dobric, Ognjen Kuzmic and Marko Simonovic scored inside for Zvezda, but Mateusz Ponitka hit a three to keep Zenit comfortable, 43-22. Baron netted another triple, but Zvezda scored free throws and continued to enjoy success inside through O’Bryant and Dobric, before Corey Walden’s driving layup completed a 0-10 run to make it 48-37 at halftime.
Branko Lazic got it back to 48-40 from long-range, but Rivers struck a quickfire trio of triples to restore a strong lead, 59-42. Gudaitis scored 4 points to complete a 12-0 run, before Davidovac made it closer with a powerful layup and a three-pointer. Zvezda’s new signing Quino Colom netted a floater and a triple, making it 69-54 at the end of the third. Rivers netted his fourth triple and Thomas scored underneath for another 20-point lead. A pair of three-point shots and an easy layup from Rivers made it 82-56 and Ponitka hit an open triple for 87-58. O’Bryant scored twice inside for Zvezda, but the on-fire Rivers scored from deep again, 90-60. Zubkov added another triple and Zenit eased home in the final minutes.
Records fall in rout
The 29-point winning margin was easily the biggest recorded by Zenit in the competition and its totals of 98 points, 16 three-pointers and 115 PIR were also club records in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague.
Pangos starts with fireworks
Kevin Pangos made a superb start to the game, scoring 13 points in the opening 6 minutes by making all of his field-goal attempts - including three three-pointers. He then turned provider to finish the first quarter with 15 points and 3 assists.
Milestone night for Rivers
KC Rivers tied Zenit’s competition record by making 7 of his 8 three-point attempts. His tally of 23 points also saw him move past 1,500 points in his EuroLeague career. And the win saw the well-traveled forward record his 100th victory in the competition to complete a memorable evening.
Unhappy debut for Colom
Zvezda gave a debut to newly-signed point guard Quino Colom. The playmaker scored 5 points in just under 10 minutes on the floor.
Zenit will be on the road to take on Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv next Tuesday, December 29, while Zvezda returns home to take on Panathinaikos OPAP Athens on Wednesday.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020