Zenit St Petersburg got back to winning ways and improved its playoff stock with 70-91 road win in a Russian derby against Khimki Moscow Region.
Zenit snapped its three-game losing streak to improve to a 17-13 record, while Khimki suffered it fourth consecutive defeat, dropping to a 3-27 in last place. Zenit overcame a slow start to take control in the second quarter when it built a double-digit margin, then used a 0-7 run break the game open after halftime. Austin Hollins led all Zenit scorers with 17 points. Kevin Pangos had 13 points and 6 assists, while Billy Baron and Alex Poythress scored 10 apiece in victory. Jordan Mickey paced Khimki with 23 points, Alexey Shved scored 19 off the bench, and Errick McCollum added 17.
Mickey got Khimki going with a put-back dunk and a long jumper, as Khimki kept the visitors scoreless for almost 5 minutes to open the game. Poythress ended the drought with two close-range baskets, only for McCollum's triple to make it 9-4. However, Zenit found offense in transition, with fastbreak baskets from Mateusz Ponitka and Will Thomas in a 0-8 run to go in front 11-14 after 10 minutes. Back-to-back three-pointers from Hollins and Andrey Zubkov took the margin to 15-23 early in the second quarter. Shved opened his tally with a triple, and Sergey Karasev cut into the deficit with a tough runner, but a monster dunk from Arturas Gudaitis and a corner triple from K.C. Rivers kept Zenit up 20-29. Despite Shved hitting a long jumper, Zenit did not allow the hosts to get close. A floater by Pangos and a long triple from Baron opened a 25-38 margin before McCollum's basket-plus-foul made it 29-39 at the break.
Zenit started the third quarter with a 0-7 run with baseline baskets from Rivers and Hollins around a triple from Pangos. Hollins added a three-pointer of his own, and after Shved knocked down a jumper and Mickey scored on a three-point play, a triple from Thomas and a dunk from Gudaitis increased the difference to 36-55. Mickey and Shved scored some more for the hosts, but a triple from Pangos and a basket-plus-foul by Ponitka opened a 44-66 gap late in the third quarter. Shved finished the quarter with a buzzer-beating triple, and Zaytsev and Mickey had three-point plays early in the fourth. But Zubkov hit from the outside and Poythress twice inside for the visitors to keep the margin at 20 points, 55-75. Mickey had an alley-oop dunk and Shved took it to the rim, but a triple apiece from Baron, Pangos and Hollins made it 61-84 on the way to Zenit closing it out.
Zenit needed 4 minutes and 40 seconds to score its first basket in the game but did not fall behind thanks to a defense that forced 7 turnovers in the opening quarter. Then, the visitors’ offense caught up, scoring 14 before the end of the first quarter, 25 points in the second and 27 more in the third to pull away to a 20-point margin.
Zenit had a 10-point margin at the half but used a 0-7 run right after it to boost the margin to 29-46. It just what the doctor ordered as Zenit never looked back.
Team scoring effort
Eight Zenit players scored between 9 and 17 points. In addition to its four scorers in double figures, Zenit also had Andrey Zubkov, Will Thomas, Mateusz Ponitka and Arturas Gudaitis score 9 points apiece.
Shved off the bench
Alexey Shved returned to action after a two-game absence and did so by coming off the bench, snapping a streak of 112 consecutive starts. It was the first time Shved came off the bench in a EuroLeague game since Round 7 of the 2015-16 regular season.
This was the fourth EuroLeague game between these two teams and each was won by the road team.
Both teams will be on double duty next week. Zenit gets back to action on Tuesday, tipping off Round 32 by hosting CSKA Moscow, while Khimki welcomes LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne a day later.