Zenit holds off Olympiacos rally
Zenit St Petersburg protected its home court by holding off Olympiacos Piraeus 91-87 on Thursday night at Sibur Arena. Zenit improved to 7-14 in the standings and Olympiacos dropped to 8-13 for the season. Zenit spent most of the night with the lead, which reached 11 points late in the third and again midway through the fourth quarter. Vassilis Spanoulis led Olympiacos's final charge, but Zenit made big plays down the stretch to hold on. Evgeny Voronov paced the hosts with a season-high 21 points, Gustavo Ayon scored 15 and Will Thomas finished with 10 points. Colton Iverson pulled down a career-high 12 rebounds in a winning effort. EuroLeague scoring king Spanoulis shined for Olympiacos with 31 points, becoming the oldest ever player - at the age of 37 - to score 30 or more points in a single game. Georgios Printezis and Kostas Papanikolaou scored 20 apiece in the loss.
The teams traded baskets early on, scoring with ease. Ayon led Zenit in scoring its first 5 two-point attempts, but Sasha Vezenkov and Spanoulis combined to score 12 points, including a triple apiece, to help Olympiacos to an 11-16 advantage. After Andrey Zubkov sank a corner triple, a second-chance three from Papanikolaou and a runner from Spanoulis made it 16-23. However, Voronov scored 4 points before the end of the first quarter to help get within 24-27. Voronov opened the second with back-to-back triples to put Zenit in front. A pair of baskets from Iverson made it 34-27. A corner three from Printezis snapped a 10-0 run before a transition three-pointer from Spanoulis helped tie it at 40-40. Vladislav Trushkin hit from long range for Zenit to take a 45-43 edge into halftime.
Thomas sparked Zenit into scoring the first 6 points of the second half. Spanoulis scored 5 points for Olympiacos, including a three, but Voronov's three-pointer and followed by a layup-plus-basket from Thomas increased the margin to 57-48. Papanikolaou had a three-pointer and drove baseline for a layup, but Zenit had a put-back from Ayon and a triple from Austin Hollins that pushed the margin into double figures, 64-53. Papanikolaou had another three-pointer late in the third quarter and Printezis scored twice inside early in the fourth. Zenit recorded 3 steals, including 2 by Andrew Albicy that led to easy fastbreak layups and a 73-62 lead. The visitors were not done, however, with Printezis leading the charge and scoring twice more from close range, before trading triples with Anton Ponkrashov. Spanoulis banked a runner to cut the margin to 76-74, but Alex Renfroe's three-point play and Hollins's three-pointer helped recreate a double-digit margin 84-74. Spanoulis scored 8 more points, including 2 three-pointers, but Zenit closed out the game in style.
Finding scoring touch
This was Zenit's seventh win of its debut EuroLeague season, but only the third on its home floor. Zenit, which has not scored more than 81 points in any home game this season, set its club record in points scored with 91.
Zenit led 45-43 at halftime despite getting dominated 4-12 on the offensive glass. However, Zenit was the team in control of rebounding in the second half; it grabbed 9 offensive boards in the last two quarters while allowing just 3.
Scoring king falls just short
The EuroLeague all-time scoring leader Vassilis Spanoulis scored 31 points, which was the most he scored in a non-overtime game in his career. It is also second-most in his 322 career games, just 3 points shy of his career-high 34 set in October 2014. Spanoulis shined with 5-for-5 for two-point shooting and 5-for-7 for threes, while dishing 7 assists. The last time Spanoulis scored more than 25 points it was exactly five years ago to this date.
Season- and career-highs
Zenit team captain Evgeny Voronov shined with a season-high 21 points and big man Colton Iverson set his career-high with 12 rebounds. Among the visitors, Kostas Papanikolaou had a season-high 20 points.
Not enough help
Olympiacos only had five players score points. In addition to Spanoulis, Papanikolaou and Georgios Printezis who combined to score 71 points, Nikola Milutinov scored 9 and Sasha Vezenkov 7. Among those five players, only Printezis came off the bench.
Olympiacos had four players with negative PIR: Taylor Rochestie (-6), Wade Baldwin IV (-6), Brandon Paul (-6) and Antonios Koniaris (-5). That is the first time in a EuroLeague game ever that at least four players finished with a PIR of -5 or lower. Previously, there were four different teams with three such players in a single game.
Next week in Round 22 both teams will play on Thursday. Olympiacos will host KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz, while Zenit will travel to visit FC Barcelona.
Thursday, January 23, 2020