Zvezda rallies past Panathinaikos at home
Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade came from behind to defeat Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 78-73 in the Serbian capital on Wednesday. Zvezda improved to 10-13 in the standings, snapping a four-game losing streak, while Panathinaikos dropped to 13-9. Kevin Punter led the winners with 24 points and Stratos Perperoglou added 12 in his return from injury for Zvezda. DeShaun Thomas and Georgios Papagiannis paced Panathinaikos with 12 points apiece. Jimmer Fredette scored 11 while Nikos Pappas had 10 for the visitors. Fredette stepped up with 8 points in an 0-11 run that gave Panathinaikos a comfortable lead, 46-57, after 30 minutes. Vladimir Stimac and Perperoglou led a 13-0 run that put the hosts ahead, 68-65, with 3 minutes left. Nick Calathes gave Panathinaikos its last lead, 71-73, but Punter scored 6 of his team's last 7 points to lead Zvezda to its 10th win of the season.
Panathinaikos found easy points early, as Calathes, Papaggianis, Papapetrou and Pappas all scored around the basket for a 2-8 lead. Billy Baron struck from downtown but Dinos Mitoglou matched that with a layup-plus-foul. Calathes banked in a running jumper and Pappas added a fastbreak layup to make it a double-digit game, 5-15. Baron buried a floater and Punter added a jumper, but Tyrese Rice and Thomas kept Panathinaikos way ahead, 9-19. A put-back by Papagiannis boosted the visitors' lead to 9-21 after 10 minutes. Punter hit a mid-range jumper early in the second quarter, but the visitors kept running their offense through Papagiannis for a 12-25 advantage. Jagodic-Kuridza and Punter tried to change things for the hosts, bringing their team a bit closer, 21-29. Michael Ojo ignited the crowd with a layup in transition and Davidovac struck from beyond the arc to get Zvezda within 28-32. Perperoglou found his first points, Punter added a triple and Davidovac dunked off a steal to cap a 10-0 run and give the hosts a 35-32 lead at halftime.
Papagiannis hit a five-meter jumper soon after the break and Pappas followed a fastbreak layup with a three-pointer as Panathinaikos regained the initiative, 37-39. Baron answered with a layup and James Gist scored in the low post, but the visitors found a go-to guy in Fredette, who had been held scoreless until then. He had 8 quick points, including a couple of tough running jumpers, in an 0-11 run that Wesley Johnson capped with a triple to restore a double-digit Panathinaikos lead, 41-53. Davidovac scored in penetration and Charles Jenkins added a layup, but Thomas singlehandedly kept the visitors way ahead, 46-57, after 30 minutes. Papagiannis stepped up with a put-back layup early in the fourth quarter, but Punter and Stimac kept Zvezda within 52-59. Fredette buried a three-pointer and Thomas added a layup-plus-foul that gave Panathinaikos fresh air, 55-65, with over 6 minutes left. Not for long, however, as Stimac and Perperoglou combined for all the points in a 13-0 run that gave Zvezda a 68-65 edge with 3 minutes left. Mitoglou scored around the basket and Thomas bettered Punter's jumper with a corner triple that tied it at 70-70. After Perperoglou split free throws, Calathes made an off-balance three-point play. Punter answered from downtown and added a technical foul shot for a 75-73 Zvezda lead with 52.3 seconds left. Jenkins collected a critical steal, which allowed Baron to split free throws, 76-73, with 15.2 seconds to go. Thomas missed a long jumper at the buzzer.
Kevin Punter made the difference and hit the most important shot of the game, a go-ahead three-pointer in the final minute. He finished the game with 24 points on 4-of-6 two-point shooting, 2-of-5 three-pointers and 10-of-11 free throws, adding an assist, 2 steals and 8 fouls drawn for a PIR of 28, a new personal best.
Charles Jenkins made the defensive play of the game with a critical steal in a one-on-one situation against Jimmer Fredette, which allowed Billy Baron and eventually Kevin Punter to seal the win from the foul line.
Turnovers made the difference in this game. Zvezda committed just 8, its second fewest this season. It previously had 7 against Zalgiris Kaunas on January 15. Panathinaikos made 18 turnovers, its second-worst mark this season. It had 19 against Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul on December 17.
Did you notice?
Zvezda had been outrebounded in each game in its four-game losing streak. Panathinaikos heavily outrebounded Zvezda by 32-47, getting its best rebounding mark in the EuroLeague ever in a non-overtime game, but Zvezda walked away with the victory.
Both teams return to EuroLeague action on Friday, February 7. Zvezda travels to Russia to face Khimki Moscow Region. Panathinaikos hosts Zenit St Petersburg.
Wednesday, February 5, 2020