Zenit's Balance Too Much For Nizhny

Zenit St. Petersburg defeated Nizhny Novgorod at home, 77-76. The fans enjoyed a classic back-and-forth battle, with Zenit's depth eventually overpowering a virtuoso performance from Nizhny guard Dmitry Khvostov.

Nizhny Novgorod brought an almost all-Russian roster to St. Petersburg. Rasid Mahalbasic was the only foreigner on the Nizhny bench with Victor Rudd unable to compete because of an injury. The stakes were high for both teams in terms of playoff positioning, while Zenit looked to complete a season sweep after winning in Nizhny in December.

St. Petersburg got off to an aggressive start, piling up a 14-5 lead in the opening minutes. Dmitry Khvostov was also briefly forced to leave the game with an injury, leaving Nizhny short-handed in the backcourt. He didn't miss much time, however, helping the visitors regain the lead in the first half. From that point on, the game was incredibly even. The two teams traded baskets, with Khvostov and Ivan Strebkov dueling Zenit's Janis Timma and Ryan Toolson.

During the 4th quarter, Zenit gradually began to take control, boosted by its superior depth. Leading 61-54 with 8:35 to play, the home team appeared to be on the way to a win.

Turning Point
Khvostov had other ideas. A seven-point outburtst from the Russian guard knotted the score at 68-68 with 3:26 to play. Unfortunately for the visitors, Khvostov's magic eventually ran out. First, he missed a free throw, then committed a turnover. Zenit took advantage, going up by as much as seven points in the final minute to clinch a win, despite one final surge from Nizhny Novgorod.

Star Player
Janis Timma. The Latvian forward got Zenit back into the game after Nizhny's hot start. He only missed twice from the field on the way to a team-high 18 points (including four 3-pointers).

Stat of the Game
45 - Dmitry Khvostov (28) and Ivan Strebkov (17) combined for 45 of Nizhny's 76 points.