Zenit edges Milan for fifth straight
After a game in which neither team held a lead larger than 8 points, Zenit St Petersburg protected its home court once again, edging AX Armani Exchange Milan 74-70 on Friday night. It was Zenit's fifth consecutive win and Milan's second straight loss, leaving both with 8-3 records, good for a share of third place. The teams traded blows and changed leads throughout the game, but Zenit used a 12-2 run over more than 6 minutes late in the fourth quarter to restore an advantage and pull out the victory. Jordan Mickey paced the hosts with 17 points. Jordan Loyd collected 13 points, 7 assists and 6 rebounds. Arturas Gudaitis had 13 points plus 7 rebounds for Zenit. Sergio Rodriguez posted 20 points and 6 assists for Milan. Kyle Hines added 12 points and 8 rebounds, while Shavon Shields scored 10 in the losing effort.
Milan started strong, with Nicolo Melli scoring 6 points as the visitors took a 4-12 lead. Zenit hit right back, though. Loyd quickly scored 5 points, including a triple, and dished an assist for Mateusz Ponitka's reverse layup to spark a 13-0 run that put Zenit up 17-12. Hines ended Milan's drought with a put-back and Shields drove for a basket-plus-free throw to help make it 19-19 after 10 minutes. Scoring runs continued early in the second quarter, when Zenit downed the first 5 points only for Milan to answer with a three-pointer from Rodriguez and a three-point play from Hines. Zenit scored the next 5 points, with a triple from Sergey Karasev making it 29-25. Milan took its turn again, this time putting together a 1-8 run during which Giampaolo Ricci nailed a triple. A triple and a mid-range jumper from Rodriguez helped the visitors hold a 35-39 halftime lead.
Mickey and Gudaitis combined for 8 points early in the third quarter before a corner triple from Karasev put Zenit in front 48-42. Devon Hall hit a pair of triples for Milan, but Mickey strung together 6 points for the hosts to maintain the lead. Billy Baron's triple opened a 57-50 gap before Ricci matched him, sparking a 0-7 run that tied the game. Then, Mickey and Rodriguez traded three-pointers, too, for a 60-60 scoreboard going into the final quarter.
Baron opened the final frame with a tough runner before Rodriguez and Hines combined on the next 6 points to put Milan in front. However, Gudaitis had a three-point play and Loyd scored 5 points, including a triple, which put Zenit up 71-66 with 3:27 to go. Rodriguez scored from close range to end visitors' three-minute scoring drought, but Baron answered with a mid-range jumper, and a pair of defensive stands helped the hosts take a 74-68 lead into the final minute, where they held on for a big victory.
Zenit continues trend against Milan
This was the fourth game between these two teams. Just like the previous three, this one was decided by single digits. Three of the four games to date between Zenit and Milan have now been decided by 6 or fewer points. Home teams won each of the previous three games, just as this one, and only once in four games between these two teams has either team score 80 or more points. This turned out to be the lowest-scoring affair between two clubs as their defenses allowed few easy baskets. Zenit was held to 25% three-point shooting, although it did score on 60.6% of its two-point shots. Milan did better from the outside, making 7 of 17 (41.2%), but was held to just 43.6% for two-pointers.
Late run lifts Zenit against Milan
Milan went up 62-66 on a fastbreak basket by Sergio Rodriguez with 6:37 to go. In the 6 minutes that followed, Zenit allowed just one more basket, a short jumper by Rodriguez. Meanwhile, during that span, Arturas Gudaitis converted a three-point play that put Zenit up for good, 67-66, and Jordan Loyd scored 5 points, including a three-pointer, to make it 71-66. During that 12-2 run, Zenit forced 3 turnovers and held Milan to just 1 field goal made in 7 attempts. It turned out to be the run that decided a closely contested affair.
Loyd, Gudaitis lead Zenit's charge
Neither was their team's top scorer, but Arturas Gudaitis and Jordan Loyd were key performers for Zenit against Milan. Big man Gudaitis, who played against his former team, finished with 13 points on 5-for-6 two-point shooting and pulled down 7 rebounds, 5 of which came on the offensive glass. The entire Milan team had 8 offensive rebounds.
Loyd did a bit of everything for Zenit, scoring 13 points, but also dishing a game-high 7 assists and grabbing 6 rebounds. He also took the matters into his own hands when it was most necessary, making a floater that cut the deficit to 64-66 midway through the fourth quarter, then nailing a triple minutes later to make it 71-66, a deficit that Zenit was not going to relinquish.
Friday, November 19, 2021