Loyd fires Zvezda past Panathinaikos in Athens
Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade took a hard-fought victory by overcoming Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 82-86 on Friday night. The visitors trailed by double-digits, 59-48, after halftime but fired back with an overwhelming 0-18 run bridging the third and fourth quarters to take the lead for good. Even though Panathinaikos then reacted and came within one point, 65-66, Jordan Loyd took over to score 16 points in the last 6 minutes to help his team get its second straight win and improve to 9-21. Loyd paced the winners with 27 points, 4 rebounds and 5 assists for a PIR of 30, followed by Corey Walden, who scored 14 points. Panathinaikos, whose record dropped to 10-18, was led Howard Sant-Roos, who registered career-highs both in points (21) and steals (7). Mario Hezonja followed him with 15 points, as Ioannis Papapetrou and Georgios Papagiannis scored 14 apiece in a losing effort.
Back-to-back three-pointers by Sant-Roos and another one by Papapetrou quickly got the hosts going, 9-0. The visitors needed almost 4 minutes to get their first bucket, as the Greens took advantage to build a 11-5 edge midway through the first period. Free throws by Hezonja, Aaron White and Konstantinos Mitoglou kept Panathinaikos in charge, 18-12, and even though Walden and Landy Nnoko energized Zvezda’s offense, the difference remained 23-17 at the end of the first period. Loyd and Nnoko made it a one-possession game early in the second, although a prompt answer by Mitoglou and Sant-Roos returned a solid 28-21 edge to the hosts. Zvezda didn’t loosen up, though, as Loyd’s return boosted an 8-16 run that turned it upside down, 36-37. Sant-Roos took over by scoring a layup and feeding White for a corner jumper, but a three-point play by Ognjen Kuzmic set it all square, 40-40, at halftime.
Nnoko scored a hook shot, as Branko Lazic and Ognjen Dobric drilled a trey each to put the visitors in front, 44-48. The hosts found an answer in Papagiannis and Sant-Roos, as the former scored 6 points and the latter provided consecutive steals in a 10-0 run that got the lead back to the home team. Hezonja joined in with free throws and a deep three to make it 59-48. Zvezda replied as Walden showed up with 8 points in a row, followed by free throws by Loyd and Radanov to enter the last quarter up 59-60. Kuzmic and Simonovic extended the gap and Walden capped a 0-18 run from the line right after PAO’s coach Katash picked up his second technical foul to be ejected. But the Greens didn’t give up, as a three point-play by Sant-Roos and a trey by Papapetrou brought it back to 65-66. Then Loyd came up big. He first hit 9 straight points to help Zvezda stay ahead, 67-75 and then, after Papapetrou and Hezonja made it 76-77, Loyd showed up again with a layup and a long three-pointer to give the visitors a 79-82 lead with less than a minute to go. Lazic extended it to 79-84 from the line, and even though Hezonja’s deep three put the game in the balance, Loyd had another answer to seal the outcome from the line.
Game of Runs
Panathinaikos had an impressive start to the third quarter, when Georgios Papagiannis and Mario Hezonja led a 15-0 run that gave the Greens a double-digit margin, 59-48. The visitors bounced back immediately and replied with a 0-18 of their own to take a 59-66 edge early in the fourth, which proved fundamental for the win.
It’s not how you start, but how you end
Jordan Loyd had an erratic start, committing a turnover and adding 2 early fouls that sent him to the bench after 3:26 in the first period. But he then scored 9 points in the second to help his team reach halftime with the game tied, 40-40, and erupted with 16 points in the last 6 minutes to seal the win.
Crvena Zvezda was ranked last in the league in points (74.3) and two-point shooting (49.0%) and had the second-weakest numbers under the glass (30.4) before this game. But against Panathinaikos, Zvezda shot 22/32 (68.8%) in two-pointers and outrebounded its opponent 30-28.
Did you know?
Howard Sant-Roos’ 7 steals matched the second-highest total in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague in the last decade. He fell one steal short of catching Yogev Ohayon of Maccabi Tel Aviv, who had 8 against Limoges CSP on Nov 14, 2014.
In Round 31 next week, Panathinaikos will fly to Turkey to challenge Anadolu Efes in Istanbul, as Zvezda will pack its bags to Russia to play CSKA in Moscow. Both games will take place the same day, on Thursday, March 25.
Friday, March 19, 2021