Going into Round 13, LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne was carrying a four-game losing streak and had the worst scoring, 70.6 points per game, in the entire Turkish Airlines EuroLeague.
Losing the first half at home by 38-45 to AX Armani Exchange Milan did not bode well for changing either of those facts. Soon, however, ASVEL would erase both in one fell swoop.
A four-point play by Jordan Taylor right after the halftime was the first good sign for head coach Zvezdan Mitrovic's team. ASVEL fans at The Astroballe got the sense that something positive was brewing. And they were right.
ASVEL played cat-and-mouse with Milan until Ismael Bako's put-back forged a 54-54 tie. Luis Scola answered from deep for Milan, but that would prove almost a last gasp for the visitors.
That's when ASVEL went on a 16-4 run to that gave the hosts a 32-point total for the third quarter, after which they were ahead 70-61. Their eventual victory by 89-82 was ASVEL's most prolific offensive show this season, and it was all about those 10 minutes after halftime, which even lifted the team out of the bottom ranking in team scoring.
To put that third-quarter outburst into perspective, ASVEL had only surpassed 23 points twice in the previous 48 full quarters it had played this season. Indeed, over five previous EuroLeague seasons totaling 72 games, all last decade, ASVEL surpassed Friday's 32 points in a quarter just once, against Cibona Zagreb on February 2, 2002.
Taylor had 11 of those 32 points and Amine Noua finished it at the buzzer with a third-chance put-back that exemplified how ASVEL had outhustled Milan to take over the game. Remarkably enough, as losing coach Ettore Messina noted afterward, those 32 points by ASVEL came with just 1 assist.
With Friday's result, ASVEL has a 6-7 record, just one win behind Milan, which had shared first place just one month ago.
"I think we feel we could have a better record right now," said David Lighty, ASVEL's leading scorer with 19 points. "I think we regret some of the losses that we had."
ASVEL's defense has been largely solid all season. Should it be able to replicate Friday's third-quarter offense, ASVEL might find itself with fewer regrets.
"It's a process, and we're just trying to compete in every game and give ourselves a chance to win," Taylor added. "That's what we did tonight."