Brown, Baron lead Zvezda to road win
Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade confirmed its good momentum in by downing Zenit St Petersburg 58-65 on the road at Basket Hall Kazan, Russia on Friday. Zvezda improved to 7-9 in the standings after winning its fifth game in seven, while Zenit dropped to 4-12. Billy Baron led the winners with 26 points, the best total yet of his rookie Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season. Lorenzo Brown added 18 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists for Zvezda. Austin Hollins led Zenit with 14 points. Will Thomas added 11 for the hosts. Brown and Baron combined for 16 first-quarter points to give Zvezda a 16-20 lead after 10 minutes. Gustavo Ayon and Anton Ponkrashov led a 13-0 run which put Zenit way ahead, 27-20, midway through the second quarter. Baron and Brown kept pacing Zvezda, bringing the guests within 40-37 at halftime. Baron and James Gist allowed Zvezda to re-take the lead, 42-43, soon after the break. Baron boosted Zvezda's margin to 47-51 after 30 minutes, then Brown and Gist stepped up in crunch time to help the guests register an important road win.
Evgeny Voronov got Zenit going with a step-back three-pointer. Baron scored in penetration in a 0-6 Zvezda run highlighted by Brown's put-back slam. Andrew Albicy fed Colton Iverson for a dunk and struck from downtown but Baron kept the guests ahead, 8-9. Thomas took over with a dunk-and-foul but Branko Lazic sank a floater and Vladimir Stimac hit a jump hook for an 11-13 Zvezda lead. Brown showed great aggressiveness with a a couple of power baskets in the low post and Baron sank his second triple but Thomas and Hollins kept Zenit within 16-20 after 10 minutes. Ayon, Hollins and Mateusz Ponitka fueled a 13-0 run in which Ponkrashov had 5 points to give Zenit a 29-20 margin. Stimac rescued Zvezda with a layup and Brown added a put-back basket to keep the guests within 29-24. Gist hit a fadeaway jumper but Hollins did better with a four-point play, good for a 33-26 Zenit edge. Thomas splashed a turnaround jumper as Zvezda kept running its offense through Brown and Baron. Ponkrashov and Lazic traded three-pointers, then Baron and an unstoppable Brown brought Zvezda within 40-37 at halftime. Ayon finished a four-chance Zenit offense with a put-back slam soon after the break. Baron stepped up for the guests, getting help from Gist to put Zvezda ahead, 42-43, after a 0-6 run. The hosts found answers on offense through Ponitka but Baron and Filip Covic each hit from beyond the arc for a 44-49 Zvezda lead. Voronov answered from downtown, then Baron banked in a floater to fix the score at 47-51 after 30 minutes. Iverson hit a jump hook early in the fourth quarter which Brown erased with a driving layup for a 49-53 Zvezda lead with under 6 minutes left. Brown kept pacing Zvezda with a step-back jumper but Hollins singlehandedly brought Zenit within 54-55. Stimac scored down low and Gist added a layup-plus-foul that made it a six-point game, 54-60, with 2 minutes left. Thomas downed a quick three-pointer but Brown scored again and Baron added a big triple to seal the outcome down the stretch.
Baron kept Zvezda in the game for long stretches with his effectiveness on offense. He finished the game with 26 points on a near-perfect shooting performance: 4-for-4 two-pointers, 5-for-6 three-pointers and 3-for-4 free throws. He added 3 rebounds, an assist, a steal and 6 fouls drawn for a PIR of 34.
A three-pointer by Hollins brought Zenit within 54-55 until Brown took matters into his own hands. He found Stimac for an easy layup, then connected with Gist for a wild three-point play and finally added a second-chance layup that sealed the outcome, 57-62, in the next-to-last minute.
Zvezda shot the ball better and dominated the boards, outrebounding Zenit by 28-44. Zvezda hit 7 of 14 three-point shots (50%) and limited Zenit to very poor shooting percentages (32.1% 2FG, 30% 3FG).
Did you notice?
Zvezda had never won in Russian soil in the top European competition. This is its first win after 13 consecutive EuroLeague road loss in Russia. Its last win in Russian came in the 2009-10 7DAYS EuroCup by downing Dynamo Moscow 86-88 on January 5, 2010.
In Round 17, Zvezda hosts FC Bayern Munich next Thursday, while Zenit visits AX Armani Exchange Milan on Friday in their first games of the new year.
Friday, December 27, 2019