Zenit wins again on the road
Zenit St Petersburg improved to 5-0 on the road this season with a 75-83 victory over Zalgiris Kaunas on Thursday evening at Zalgirio Arena. Austin Hollins starred in a 0-8 finish to the first quarter that put Zenit up by 10 and after leading 32-45 at halftime, Zenit opened the second half on a 2-14 tear and took to margin to 25 before coasting the rest of the way. Zalgiris rallied to 6 in the closing minutes, but ran out of time. The result lifted Zenit's record to 6-2, while Zalgiris slumped to 5-6 with its fourth straight loss at home.
Hollins paced the Zenit attack with 20 points, Will Thomas tallied 16 points and 7 rebounds, Kevin Pangos delivered 13 points and 7 assists and Alex Poythress added 11 points. Marius Grigonis led Zalgiris with 18 points, Joffrey Lauvergne collected 17 points and 8 rebounds and Augustine Rubit scored 12 in defeat.
A pair of baskets by Lauvergne gave the hosts an early lead, but the defenses cooled the pace and Mateusz Ponitka's layup gave Zenit its first lead, 6-8. Thomas powered the visitors from the outside and in the paint and Hollins got going with a steal and slam followed by a three-pointer and free throws that boosted the margin to 13-23. Rubit ended Zenit's 0-8 run and closed the gap to 15-23 after 10 minutes. Zenit continued to roll as K.C. Rivers opened the second quarter with a three-pointer and Kevin Pangos soon added another to make it 17-31. A three by Grigonis got the hosts going again, but a score by Poythress made it 24-36 midway through the second quarter. Grigonis connected twice more from behind the arc to keep Zenit from pulling away, but Thomas left the visitors comfortable ahead, 32-45, at the break.
Zenit came out hot for the second half with back-to-back threes by Hollins and Pangos. Before long, Thomas and Ponitka added triples. Pangos zipped through the Zalgiris defense with a layup to cap a 2-14 run that made it 34-59. Grigonis provided a spark for Zalgiris and a modest 6-0 run with points from Lauvergne, Paulius Jankunas and Arturas Milaknis trimmed the deficit to 47-63. Lauvergne added a jumper to make it 51-66 through three quarters. Nigel Hayes heated up for Zalgiris and Lauvergne's steal and slam made it 58-68. Rokus Jokubaitis narrowed the gap to 8 before Hollins relaxed the visitors with a jumper and an all-balance three by Thomas extended the lead to 69-81 with 2 and a half minutes to play. Even though Grigonis sank free throws that made it a 6-point game, the clock became a Zalgiris opponent, too, and Zenit held on for the victory.
Zalgiris had no response for Austin Hollins in the early going as the Zenit guard netted 13 first-quarter points. He was 2 for 2 on three-pointers and did not miss on 5 trips to the line in helping the visitors take charge.
The visitors led by 13 at halftime, but a strong start for Zalgiris could have changed things quickly. However, Austin Hollins, Kevin Pangos, Will Thomas and Mateusz Ponitka all hit threes in a 2-14 Zenit charge to make it 34-59 and the controlled the score the rest of the way.
Zenit combined to shoot 12 for 23 (52.2%) on three-pointers, with three players knocking down 3 shots from downtown. Will Thomas was 3 for 3, while Kevin Pangos and Austin Hollins were both 3 for 4.
For its next game, Zenit begins December at home against Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul on Thursday, December 3. The following day, Zalgiris hosts FC Barcelona.
Thursday, November 26, 2020