Heading into Friday’s home meeting with Olympiacos Piraeus, Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade had lost its last two games and the playoffs ranks were starting to drift away. But Lorenzo Brown returned just in time to keep the Serbian club in the race for the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs.
Brown missed Round 14 with a leg injury but showed no signs of that as he guided Zvezda to a crucial 88-81 victory. The 29-year-old guard breezed past his previous career high of 21 points as he tallied 34 points - the sixth biggest output by a player in the EuroLeague this season. Brown got past the Olympiacos defense at will and drained 11-of-18 two-point shots, 2-of-4 from long range and 6-of-9 from the free throw line to go with 3 rebounds, 4 assists and 9 fouls drawn for a PIR of 32, which was also a career high after a 29 of PIR in the Round 12 game against AX Armani Exchange Milan, in which he scored 21 points.
"Lorenzo was huge for us tonight. He led us out there to a big win", said Billy Baron, who had 17 points off the bench as the only other Zvezda player in double figures while the other four starters besides Brown combined for just 18 points.
Brown has been on fire of late, averaging 23.5 points in his last four games, not to mention 5.5 assists as he begins to take over in his EuroLeague rookie campaign.
Zvezda will desperately need Brown to continue his outstanding play, especially in the next stretch of games: Rounds 16 to 20 see the Serbian side play at Zenit St Petersburg, host FC Bayern Munich, start 2020 in France against LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne and then welcome Zalgiris Kaunas and ALBA Berlin.
Bayern and ASVEL are both fellow contenders for the playoffs while Zenit, Zalgiris and ALBA are currently the bottom three teams in the league. So at a time when Zvezda needs a run of wins, the Brown-inspired home victory over Olympiacos was the perfect starting point.