EA7 Milan and masterful Langford deal champs first loss
Keith Langford and EA7 Emporio Armani Milan put together a masterful performance, sinking two-time reigning champion Olympiacos Piraeus with 81-51 win in Thursday’s Game of the Week, at the site of this season’s Final Four, Mediolanum Forum. Langford scored 29 points and Milan picked up one of its biggest wins in recent years, worthy of a standing ovation from the home crowd, while dropping Olympiacos from the ranks of the unbeaten. Olympiacos’s offensive output was the club’s worst in a Euroleague game since 1979! Both teams now hold 1-1 records in Group E. Milan made a pair of runs, 9-0 at the start of the second quarter, and 9-1 to end it, grabbing a 39-32 halftime lead. After the break it was all EA7 Milan, however, as the hosts allowed only 8 points in 16 minutes of play, while putting together a 21-4 third quarter run. Margin led by as much as 76-42 in the fourth quarter despite missing Alessandro Gentile due to sickness. Langford scored 17 points in the first half, and finished 5 of 6 from downtown. Daniel Hackett added 17 points, Curtis Jerrells netted 13, while Gani Lawal had 10 points, 9 rebounds and 5 blocks in a huge victory. Georgios Printezis was the lone Olympiacos scorer in double-digits with 12 points, while Vassilis Spanoulis scored 8 points with 6 assists.
First quarter: Reds take the early lead
It took teams almost three minutes to get on the scoreboard, before Langford made a steal and raced for a reverse layup to open the scoring. On the other end, a driving layup from Spanoulis opened Olympiacos's account, and Printezis followed it with a layup. Langford and Hackett hit back to back triples, and Hackett added a score in the low post for 10-4. After Evangelos Mantzaris answered from long range, Cedric Simmons scored from close range and followed it by a put-back-plus-foul for a 10-12 edge. The Reds strung together several defensive stops, holding the hosts without a single basket for three minutes before Hackett's turnaround jumper. Printezis scored a pair of floaters from each side of the rim, helping the visitors regain the lead, and after David Moss scored his first basket of the night, Kostas Sloukas hit a buzzer-beating jumper for 16-21 lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Multiple runs swing the score Milan's way
Langford and Stratos Perperoglou traded triples to start the second quarter, before the hosts went on a 9-0 run. Lawal made an impact, sparking things with a long jumper, then had an offensive rebound that resulted in free throws for to close within 23-24. Milan's defensive pressure paid dividends, too, and Langford hit a second-chance jumper to put the hosts in the lead. C.J. Wallace followed it with a basket from close range, and Langford hit from downtown for 30-24. The Reds had an answer as Spanoulis drove for a layup, and Lojeski scored a basket-plus-free throw on a breakaway. Another drive to the hoop from Spanoulis made it 30-31, but Milan finished the half with a 9-1 spurt. Hackett scored inside to start the run before Jerrells assisted Lawal for a monster alley-oop dunk, then sank a fastbreak triple. Langford ended the quarter with 2 of 3 from the foul line, giving the hosts a 39-32 halftime lead.
Third quarter: Milan races away with a 21-4 run
Printezis made a baseline floater to start the third quarter, but Milan responded in a big way. Hackett hit from behind the arc, and Langford nailed a jumper to make it 46-34. After a timeout by Coach Bartzokas, Milan extended the lead with Hackett banking in a floater to make it a 14-point game. Printezis snapped a 9-0 run, but Hackett stole the ball and dunked on a fastbreak to lift the home fans to their feet, 50-36 midway through the third. Spanoulis drove for a layup, and Olympiacos switched to zone defense, but it was Lawal’s defense and big shot blocks on back-to-back possessions that were making the difference. Lawal followed the first block with a jumper off the glass, and Bruno Cerrella raced for a fastbreak layup after the second one. Lawal added another block, in between Langford’s three-pointers, 60-38. Bryant Dunston had a put-back dunk to end a 10-2 spurt, but Jerrells beat the buzzer with a three-pointer for a 63-40 cushion at the end of the third quarter.
Fourth quarter: Hosts extend the lead to 34 points
Milan kept its energy and effort in the fourth quarter, too. Cerella and Nicolo Melli hit triples to extend it to 70-40, and the hosts held the Reds without a point for more than five minutes. Jerrells scored a fastbreak layup before Sloukas made 2 free throws to end the champs’ six-minute scoring drought. Free throws from Langford and Jerrells extended the difference to the biggest margin of the night, 76-42, before Sloukas sank a triple and Mantzaris drove the lane for a layup. Printezis and Mantzaris added more baskets from close range, but Jerrells hit his third three-pointer and Langford nailed a tough jumper as Milan kept the big lead and closed out the game.
Thursday, January 9, 2014