Zenit holds off depleted Zvezda in a thriller
Kevin Pangos netted a career-high 25 points, including a game-winning three-pointer with 27 seconds to go, to give Zenit St Petersburg a hard-fought 75-76 win over Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade on Friday night in the Serbian capital. In a battle that went down to the wire, Zenit snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 14-9, while Zvezda dropped to 7-17 on the season. Zenit led by as many as 15 points in the first half, and held a double-digit lead late in the third quarter, but Zvezda rallied behind Ognjen Dobric and Dejan Davidovac. The teams traded leads the rest of the way, before Pangos hit a second-chance triple after Mateusz Ponitka's offensive rebound, lifting Zenit to an important win. Pangos finished with 25 points on 5-for-6 three-point shooting and 7 assists, and was the only Zenit double-digit scorer. Zvezda's Jordan Loyd scored 17 of his 21 points in the first half, and Dobric netted all of his 13 points in the second half in a losing effort.
Loyd and Branko Lazic hit early three-pointers for Zvezda, but Austin Hollins had a pair of dunks to even things out. Arturas Gudaitis scored from close range, and K.C. Rivers knocked down a corner triple to put Zenit in front. A fastbreak layup from Pangos followed by another three from Rivers opened a 12-22 lead. Aleksa Radanov helped snap a 2-12 run and make it 16-22 after 10 minutes, then drove for another layup early in the second quarter. But back-to-back threes from Billy Baron and Rivers, two former Zvezda players, opened an 18-30 lead. Loyd scored Zvezda's next 6 points, but a three-pointer from Denis Zakharov and a jumper from Pangos helped Zenit to extend it to 24-39. Zvezda answered with a 7-0 run, sparked by a runner from Loyd and a triple from Marko Jagodic-Kuridza, but back-to-back threes from Pangos put Zenit ahead 36-48 at halftime.
The teams traded baskets to start the third quarter before Aleksa Uskokovic and Jagodic-Kuridza sparked Zvezda's offense. Loyd's dunk and a triple from Marko Simonovic cut it to 47-54 midway through the quarter, and a triple from Dobric made it 50-56. Zenit answered back and another triple from Pangos briefly restored a double-digit margin, but Dobric and Davidovac each hit from long range in the final minute of the third to make it 56-61 going into the fourth. A runner from Dobric and a fastbreak layup from Davidovac gave Zvezda 62-61 lead with 7:22 to go. After a timeout, Pangos took matters into his own hands with a driving layup and a three-pointer, then dished it for a triple from Andrey Zubkov to make it 64-69. A jumper-plus-foul from Aleksa Uskokovic tied things at 69-69 with 3 minutes remaining. Pangos knocked down a jumper, but Davidovac nailed a triple, then kicked it out for Dobric who nailed one himself with 53 seconds to go, giving Zvezda a 75-72 edge. But Zenit survived thanks to a big effort from Ponitka, who grabbed an offensive board after a free throw miss from Gudaitis, then found Pangos wide open on the perimeter for a game-winning basket. Zvezda had two more possessions to go in front, but Loyd's driving layup in the final seconds just missed as Zenit prevailed.
Pangos fuels Zenit
Kevin Pangos finished with 25 points, scoring 15 in the second half. The rest of his teammates combined to score just 13 points in the second half.
Free throw woes
Zenit made 15 of its first 16 free throws in the game, but in the last 3 minutes made just 2 of 6 free throw shotsThanks to Pangos’s heroics it did not cost the team victory.
Zvezda rides defense
Zvezda came up just short, but managed to rally behind second-half defense that allowed 28 points, and held Zenit to just 6 assists and 2 offensive rebounds after half-time.
Missing in action
Zvezda had six important contributors sidelined for various reasons: Cory Walden, Landry Nnoko, Langston Hall, Quino Colom, Duop Reath and Johnny O'Bryant were all out.
Both teams will be on double-duty next week. Zenit will be in action on Monday when it hosts AX Armani Exchange Milan in a rescheduled Round 5 game, then on Thursday it hosts Valencia Basket in Round 26. Zvezda will be traveling to face Zalgiris Kaunas in a rescheduled Round 24 game on Tuesday, then visits TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz in Round 26 on Friday.
Friday, February 19, 2021