Real holds off Zenit's comeback
Real Madrid recorded its sixth consecutive win of the regular season by downing host Zenit St Petersburg 71-86 at Sibur Arena on Friday. Real improved to 8-3 in the standings while Zenit dropped to 2-9 and is now on a six-game losing streak. Facu Campazzo led the winners with 19 points. Gabriel Deck added 15, Rudy Fernandez and Fabien Causeur each had 11 while Edy Tavares pulled down 12 rebounds for Real. Gustavo Ayon led Zenit with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Evgeny Voronov added 17 points, Will Thomas 13 and Mateusz Ponitka 10 for the hosts. Campazzo scored Real's first 8 points. He got help from Causeur and Tavares to keep Real ahead 19-22 after 10 minutes. Zenit found a go-to guy in Ayon, who allowed the hosts to get a 33-31 lead late in the first half. A rain of three-pointers, mainly from Jaycee Carroll, and an outstanding Jordan Mickey allowed Real to take a 37-44 margin at halftime. A layup by Deck made it a 20-point game, 37-57, soon after that, but Thomas, Voronov and Ayon pulled Zenit to within 64-69 midway through the fourth quarter. Deck and Fernandez stepped up in crunch time, allowing Real to seal the outcome.
Campazzo got Real going with a couple of three-pointers and soon added an acrobatic reverse layup for a 3-8 lead. Thomas answered from downtown and Colton Iverson added a tip-in for Zenit, but Real continued dominating the boards and Deck kept the guests ahead, 8-13. Tavares followed a dunk with a layup but Thomas and Ayon brought the hosts a bit closer at 14-17. Causeur stepped up with a floating layup and a bomb from downtown but Ayon scored again and Ponitka buried a triple that kept Zenit within 19-22 after 10 minutes. A layup by Anthony Randolph and a wild four-point play by Trey Thompkins boosted Los Blancos' margin to 22-28 early in the second quarter. Andrew Albicy answered from beyond the arc to ignite a 9-0 run in which Ayon downed a couple of jumpers to give Zenit its first lead, 31-28. Real found answers from downtown, as Fernandez and Nico Laprovittola each hit a three-pointer, and Carroll hit twice from the same distance for a 33-40 score. Mickey scored twice in the paint to keep Real way ahead, 37-44, at halftime. The rain of three-pointers continued after the break, as Causeur and Campazzo each struck from deep at 37-52. Causeur insisted from beyond the arc and Deck added a layup that made it a 20-point game, 37-57. Ayon tried to change things for Zenit, getting help from Voronov and Thomas to give the hosts hope at 47-59. Voronov struck from downtown and Ayon added a jump hook at 52-61. Ponitka banked in a close shot but Campazzo answered with a layup and Fernandez beat the third-quarter buzzer with a long triple that gave Real fresh air, 56-66, after 30 minutes. Thompkins downed a rainbow three-pointer early in the fourth quarter but Thomas had 4 points in an 8-0 run which Austin Hollins capped with a layup that brought Zenit back in the game, 64-69, with 6 minutes left. Deck scored in the low post and Fernandez added a triple that gave Real breathing room at 64-74. Real improved its defense in the final minutes as Tavares owned the boards while Campazzo and Deck sealed the outcome down the stretch.
Once again, Deck did a little bit of everything to make sure Real returned to the Spanish capital with a road win. He finished the game with 15 points on 3-of-6 two-point, 1-of-2 three-point and 6-of-7 free-throw shooting, adding 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 7 fouls drawn for a game-best PIR of 25.
Real led almost all the way but Zenit managed to get within 64-69 with 6 minutes remaining. Deck scored a big basket in the low post, then Fernandez buried his third three-pointer of the night in a 0-7 run that made it 64-76 as Zenit struggled to score late in the game.
Three-point shots made the difference in the game. Zenit only made 35% of its attempts from downtown, 7 of 20, and Real buried as many as 15 of 33, or 45.5%. Those 15 three-pointers were Real's best mark in 2019. It last scored 15 shots from downtown against FC Bayern Munich on December 21, 2018.
Did you notice?
Tavares lived to his reputation as a defensive wall. For the third time in his EuroLeague career, Tavares reached double digits in defensive rebounds, pulling down 10 to match his career-best effort. Tavares added 3 blocks to round a great night under his own rim. Tavares had 3 blocks in the first five games of the season (0.6 bpg.) but has had 19 in the next six (3.2 bpg.).
In Round 12, Madrid hosts Valencia Basket in an all-Spanish showdown on Thursday. A day later, Zenit welcomes LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne.
Friday, November 29, 2019