Barcelona rallies past Milan for 10th win
In an intense battle that went down to the wire, FC Barcelona recorded its 10th win of the regular season by downing AX Armani Exchange Milan 87-71 at home in Palau Blaugrana on Friday. Barcelona improved to 10-3 in the standings and bounced back from its home loss against Olympiacos Piraeus earlier this week while Milan dropped to 7-5. Brandon Davies led the winners with 21 points on 8-for-10 two-point shooting. Nikola Mirotic posted a double-double of 19 points and 10 rebounds, Cory Higgins had 16 points, including back-to-back triples to break the game open late in the game, while Nick Calathes dished 14 assists for Barcelona. Malcolm Delaney led Milan with 23 points, while Shavon Shields added 12, Vladimir Micov 11 and Kyle Hines 10.
Mirotic dunked and Alex Abrines struck from downtown in an 11-0 opening run that Higgins capped with a layup. Milan did not panic, however, as Hines and Delaney quickly got their team within 11-7. Davies followed a put-back slam with a three-point play, restoring a 16-7 Barcelona lead. Hines scored twice around the rim and Shields added a three-pointer but Kyle Kuric struck twice from beyond the arc for a 23-15 Barcelona lead after 10 minutes. Jeff Brooks took over with a three-point play early in the second quarter and Kevin Punter added a fastbreak layup to get Milan within 23-20. Davies rescued Barcelona with 6 unanswered points but Delaney and Micov each struck from beyond the arc in a 0-9 run that tied it at 29-29. Shields soon downed a three-pointer that completed Milan's comeback, 33-34. Higgins and Mirotic gave Barca a new lead, 37-36, but Shields scored in penetration, Delaney added a jumper and Micov sank a buzzer-beating triple for a 39-43 Milan lead at halftime. Mirotic and Abrines downed back-to-back jumpers right after the break but Hines and Micov restored a 43-48 Milan edge. Higgins and Delaney exchanged three-pointers and Mirotic got a layup-plus-foul for a 49-51 score. Punter sank a triple but Barcelona found new go-to guys, as Adam Hanga, Rolands Smits and Pierre Oriola gave the hosts a 58-55 lead. Luigi Datome and Shields stepped up for Milan, then Smits and Kaleb Tarczewski traded dunks for a 60-61 score after 30 minutes. Shields and Tarczewski kept pacing Milan early in the fourth quarter and Delaney buried a three-pointer for a 60-67 Milan lead. Davies dunked and Mirotic followed with a backdoor layup after a Barcelona timeout. Calathes found his first points, then Mirotic and Davies scored around the basket for a 70-69 Barcelona lead. Higgins downed back-to-back triples to seal the outcome, 76-69, in the next-to-last minute. Davies dunked twice and Calathes rounded a special night with a bomb from downtown.
Calathes set a new club record with 14 assists. He already had the previous record, shared with Thomas Heurtel. He added 5 points, 6 rebounds and a steal for a PIR of 18. Above all, he stepped up when it mattered most, controlling the game in the fourth quarter.
Milan led 64-69 midway through the fourth quarter but Barcelona held the guests scoreless for 4 minutes. Meanwhile, Davies, Calathes, Mirotic and an outstanding Higgins fueled a mammoth 21-0 run which allowed the hosts to get a comfortable win.
Barcelona heavily outrebounded Milan, 39-22. The guests only pulled down 12 defensive rebounds, just as many as Barcelona's offensive boards. Barcelona led 22-13 in assists and had a much better three-point shooting percentage, making 8 of 14 for 57.1% as compared to Milan's 10 of 27 for 37%.
Did you know?
Hines became the third player in EuroLeague history to score 1,000 two-point shots. He reached the milestone with a tip-in with 53.6 seconds left, his fourth basket of the game. Ante Tomic leads the all-time standings with 1,137 two-pointers made , followed by Georgios Printezis (1,112) and Hines (1,001).
Both teams return for Round 14 action early next week. Milan visits Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul on Tuesday, December in Luigi Datome's first visit to his old club since leaving last summer. He played for Fenerbahce for five season, winning the EuroLeague title in 2017 and reaching the championship game in 2016 and 2018. Barcelona hosts Khimki Moscow Region on Wednesday.
Friday, December 11, 2020