Monaco triumphs in St Petersburg for fourth straight win
AS Monaco recorded its fourth consecutive victory on Thursday by defeating Zenit St Petersburg 77-86 at Sibur Arena. Mike James led the way with 21 points and 5 assists, Dwayne Bacon added 20 points and Donatas Motiejunas posted 16 points and 8 rebounds to lead Monaco, which improved to 9-11 on the season. Zenit, which trailed for all but a few seconds in the second quarter, could not overcome the absences of Arturas Gudaitis and Conner Frankamp and fell to 12-7. Jordan Mickey was Zenit’s top scorer with 18 points and 5 blocks, Dmitry Kulagin and Mindaugas Kuzminskas added 12 points apiece and Sergey Karasev scored 10 in defeat.
The big men opened the scoring with Motiejunas sandwiching a pair of buckets around a layup by Zenit’s Anton Pushkov. Motiejunas remained active with an assist to James for a three before he knocked down a triple of his own for a 4-12 lead. A timeout did little to cool the Monaco center down as Motiejunas grabbed a rebound at one end and made a basket in the lane at the other. Karasev stepped up for Zenit with a pair of baskets only to see Motiejunas split free throws to reach 10 individual points in less than 7 minutes. A triple by Karasev, free throws by Billy Baron and an unsportsmanlike foul by Will Thomas on Mickey that led to Mickey's free throws completed an 11-1 run that evened things at 15-15. Bacon’s three-point play put the visitors back in front and Kulagin could only make it 17-18 after 10 minutes.
Bacon added a jumper early in the second quarter and a three by Paris Lee made it 18-23. Tyson Carter come on for his EuroLeague debut only to see Danilo Andjusic score twice as Monaco recorded a 1-9 start to the quarter. After a timeout, Kuzminskas buried a three for Zenit, which slowly clawed away at the deficit. Carter’s first EuroLeague points came from the line and Kuzminskas also netted free throws to bring Zenit within 2. The Zenit forward made a three from the top of the key to complete the comeback at 30-29. Monaco regrouped with a basket by Motiejunas and a three by Andjusic. After free throws by Mickey, James scored his first points with a put-back in the final seconds of the half to make it 32-36 at the break.
Alex Poythress came out strong for Zenit with a dunk and a block, but Motiejunas and James continued to fuel Monaco, which led 34-42 after a jumper by the latter. Kulagin responded with 5 quick points to get Zenit back in the game. Free throws by Diallo made it 41-48 midway through the third quarter, but Kulagin remained red-hot and converted a three-point play. Bacon took control with a layup and a three-pointer to extend the difference to 46-55. Mateusz Ponitka scored twice for Zenit, however, a timeout cooled him down and Bacon made it 50-57 through three quarters.
James gave Monaco a 9-point lead again only to see Zenit chip away as Mickey got the host within 4. However, Bacon soon had Monaco cruising at 54-63. After a timeout, Will Thomas free throws made it a double-digit lead. The teams traded shots and Jordan Loyd finally got on the scoreboard with a three-pointer, but Monaco remained in control. The lead peaked at 62-75 with a jumper by James with 3 minutes to go. After a timeout, Loyd made free throws and Karasev a three to give Zenit hope, but James came through at the other end and Monaco held on for a key win.
James turns it on in the second half
Mike James has been the driving force behind AS Monaco’s success this season, yet he was fairly quiet in the first half on Thursday in St Petersburg. The point guard’s put-back basket in the dying seconds of the second quarter were his only points of the half. However, James turned on his scoring mode for the second half when he scored 19 points on 7-of-9 two-point shooting and 1-of-3 three-point shooting. He also made 2 free throws, both in the fourth quarter, and posted a performance index rating of 20 in the final 20 minutes. James raised his average to 15.5 points, 6.0 assists and a PIR of 17.0 for the season.
Mickey sets Zenit record for blocks
With Arturas Gudaitis sidelined, Jordan Mickey made up for his injured teammate by posting his finest game for the season for Zenit St Petersburg. The big man posted 18 points, 3 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 5 blocks for a performance index rating of 27. He tied his season-high in scoring and set a season-high in PIR. The 5 blocks tied his career-best and set a club record, too. The previous record was 4 which was set by Colton Iverson in January 2019 and tied earlier this season in Round 7 by Alex Poythress. Mickey also blocked 5 shots twice last season with Khimki Moscow Region.
By the numbers: Monaco simply shoots better
AS Monaco can point to the shooting numbers to understand the difference in its Round 10 win over Zenit St Petersburg. The visiting team simply shot much better from the field. Monaco combined to make 54.2% of its two-pointers (26 for 48) and 43.8% of its threes (7 of 16). In contrast, Zenit was 51.4% (18 of 35) on twos and 29.2% on threes (7 of 24). On top of that, Monaco also outrebounded Zenit (32-38) and committed fewer turnovers (12-10), which spelled out the differences.
Thursday, January 20, 2022