Lorenzo Brown was the star of the show for two reasons on Thursday night. First, he put Crvena Zvezda mts Belgarde in a position to win the game with an outstanding performance over the first 39-plus minutes of the game. Then he took charge on the final possession and buried a step-back three-pointer on the buzzer to lift the Serbian champs to a 76-73 victory over Valencia Basket.
Brown posted impressive numbers; he led the team with 19 points - including 10 in the fourth quarter, 6 assists and a performance index rating of 21. He shot well, too, making 4 of 7 two-pointers, 2 of 4 threes and all 5 of his free-throw attempts. Even more impressive was how he put up the numbers.
The Zvezda playmaker used his passing to set up his scoring. Brown recorded assists on his team's first two possessions of the game before scoring on his first shot to give the hosts an 8-2 lead. He did not play at all in the second quarter as Valencia went ahead 37-41 at halftime. Then in the third, he again started out passing with 3 assists on as many possessions before sinking free throws to give Zvezda a 45-43 edge.
Midway through the fourth quarter, Valencia led 64-68 and looked poised to pull away. Naturally Brown stepped up again. This time he knocked down a three-pointer. Then Brown answered Bojan Dubljevic's free throws with a layup. His free throws with 1:48 remaining tied the game at 71-71. Brown wasn't perfect; he missed a finger roll with 47 seconds to play and the score tied, but Zvezda denied Valencia on defense and had the ball for the final possession. Here’s what happened...
"I was just trying to get the last shot, honestly," Brown said after the game. "We had the ball in our hands and we just tried to make something happen and the ball went in for me. It was a great screen by James [Gist] at the top, but their guy played some great defense. I ended up getting a good look at the rim and I made it."
A EuroLeague rookie, Brown has adjusted quickly to playing in the competition; he has averaged 13.9 points and 4.6 assists for a PIR of 17.6 over his past seven games and played major roles in leading Zvezda to wins in three of them. And it certainly appears that he has the trust of new coach Dragan Sakota.
At age 27, Brown is setting himself up not only to be a go-to guy who can lead Zvezda on a playoff push this season but a EuroLeague star for years to come.