ASVEL prevails in slugfest for important win over Zvezda
LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne picked up an important victory in its fight for the playoffs as it knocked off Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 69-67 at home. ASVEL had dropped six of its last seven games but grabbed the win to improve to 9-11 - including 7-4 at the Astroballe. Zvezda gained control early with a 4-17 run to pull ahead early in the second quarter. Paul Lacombe inspired a comeback and ASVEL nosed ahead in the third quarter. The game went back and forth the rest of the way until Chris Jones hit the game-winning layup with 26 seconds to play. Jones and Lacombe both scored 17 points to pace ASVEL, which was playing without leading scorer Elie Okobo. Ognjen Dobric poured in 20 points and Aaron White scored 12 points for Zvezda, which fell to 7-12 after its fourth loss in the last five games. The Serbian champ was playing its first EuroLeague game since December 30 and its first game overall since an Adriatic League game on January 2.
White scored the game’s first basket after nearly 2 minutes for the visitors. ASVEL committed three turnovers before Dylan Osetkowski finally hit for the home side, which took its first lead 5-4 on Antoine Diot’s three-pointer. Zvezda kept ASVEL scoreless for 2 minutes and then had three-pointers from Austin Hollins and White in a 2-11 run to build a 7-15 lead, and it was 11-17 after 10 minutes.
ASVEL remained out of sorts offensively with three turnovers while Zvezda got two points from four different players in a 0-8 start to the second quarter to lead 11-25. Osetkowski converted a reverse layup to finally get ASVEL on the board after more than 3 minutes. Osetkowski added three free throws and Marcos Knight picked up a tip-in, getting ASVEL within 18-27. Dobric drained a three-pointer at the other end and the advantage grew to 13 points - 20-33. Jones finally scored his first points for the hosts and ASVEL was down 25-35 at the break.
Lacombe came out of the halftime break inspired with two layups and a putback, and Jones added four points in a 10-2 run to close within 35-37. A Zvedza timeout was followed by scores from Branko Lazic and Luka Mitrovic to push back ahead 35-41. Lacombe added two more scores before coming out of the game with James Gist taking over and getting a hook shot to fall for a 44-43 ASVEL lead. Dobric and Jones swapped three-pointers and the home side was ahead 49-48 after 30 minutes.
Dobric opened the final frame with a three-pointer and Mitrovic made it 49-53. ASVEL punched back and Matthew Strazel’s three-pointer had the hosts up 54-53. Dobric answered with another three-pointer and Nikola Kalinic also hit from long range to build a 56-61 lead. ASVEL responded with six straight points and Gist’s dunk had the hosts up 64-63. Dobric’s two free throws were matched by a Jones floater with 2 minutes left, sending ASVEL up 66-65. Lacombe drew an offensive foul on White with 69 seconds left and then split free throws. Dobric tied the game with a runner, but Jones hit a driving layup off the glass with 26 seconds left to give ASVEL the lead. And that ended up being enough when Dobric was off on his three-pointer at the buzzer.
Lacombe steps up in absence of Okobo
A massive reason ASVEL won Friday night’s game against Zvezda was an outstanding showing by Paul Lacombe, who came off the bench and gave the team some much needed energy, especially in the third quarter. He totalled 17 points - setting a new career high - as he connected on 8-of-14 shots from the field and 1-of-2 free throws. He added another new career high of 7 rebounds, along with 2 assists and 1 steal for a performance index rating of 17, which was also a personal best.
Dobric career night not enough for Zvezda
While Lacombe was helping win the game for ASVEL, the player of the game would have been Ognjen Dobric had Zvezda pulled out the victory which looked likely for much of the evening. Dobric drained 4 three-pointers in scoring 20 points while also grabbing 4 rebounds. He also picked up 2 assists and 1 steal for a PIR of 15. The 20 points was a career high for the 27-year-old guard, who had twice scored 17 points in a game - including against ASVEL nearly a year ago on January 29, 2021.
ASVEL committed 19 turnovers against Zvezda and made just 3-of-16 three-pointers for 18.8%. But the home team did connect on 59.5% of 2-pointers and won the rebounding battle 42-34. ASVEL came into the game allowing 80.1 points per contest - the 15th-ranked defense in the competition - but on this occasion TJ Parker’s men held Zvezda to just 67 points. Zvezda outdid the hosts on the offensive glass 17 to 15, but ASVEL won the battle of second-chance points 17-7. The French side had been averaging just 9.0 offensive rebounds per game, the fewest in the league.
Friday, January 21, 2022