For around 25 minutes of Zenit St Petersburg’s 74-85 win at AS Monaco on Friday night, Jordan Loyd’s impact upon the game was rather conspicuous by its absence.
The shooting star made a positive start, netting the opening basket of the game with a three-pointer and adding another soon after, sparking his team’s 31-point explosion in the opening quarter. After that though, Loyd offered little else as Monaco roared back into the game, going ahead early in the third quarter and maintaining a series of small leads until the midway point of the final period.
There was, however, a good reason for Loyd’s ineffectiveness: like his backcourt teammate Dmitry Kulagin, he was playing through a sickness that left him severely lacking in energy – especially as it came at the end of a two-round week on the road, following Wednesday’s win at LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne where he spent more than 31 minutes on the floor, nearly 3,000 kilometers from home.
However, Loyd did still have just about enough gas in the tank to take over the game when it mattered the most in the decisive final minutes. Returning to the floor for good at the start of the fourth quarter with Monaco leading by 1, Loyd’s first contribution was to draw a shooting foul and convert both free throws – his first points in 27 minutes.
Zenit then edged into the lead, at which point Loyd decided to make sure of the win by taking matters into his own hands. In the final 4 minutes, he scored 12 points - including shooting 3 for 3 on three-point attempts, personally outscoring Monaco’s whole team 12-9 during that decisive passage of play. He also dished 2 assists and even found the energy to contribute on defense, blocking a shot from Danilo Andjusic.
This flurry of late activity was nothing particularly new from Loyd, who has regularly served as the fourth quarter "closer" during his three seasons in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. And it earned him praise from Coach Xavi Pascual, who enthused after the game: “In the last part of the game, Jordan is someone who frequently helps a lot. He was the key in our offense, along with Billy Baron.”
Loyd himself was delighted with the circumstances of the victory, saying: “Best win of the year for me. Our team is depleted, they’re hurting, a lot of guys under the weather, but we had the next-man-up mentality and everybody stepped up – coaching staff and players. I’m really excited.”
Excited and, no doubt, exhausted.