Real holds off Milan in a thriller
Real Madrid nearly squandered an 11-point lead in the final 2 minutes, but in the end managed to pull out a thrilling 73-75 road win over AX Armani Exchange Milan on Thursday night at Mediolanum Forum. Real improved to 13-3 to stay in second place in the standings, while Milan dropped to 10-6 for the season. Real took control of the game in the second quarter behind Guerschon Yabusele and kept the margin safe throughout the second half. Behind Rudy Fernandez and Fabien Causeur the visitors led 62-73 and had possession with just over 2 minutes to go, but Shavon Shields and Luigi Datome rallied the hosts, who even had a three-pointer to win it, but Malcolm Delaney's corner triple at the buzzer rimmed out. Causeur finished with 17 points to lead Real. Yabusele scored 15, Sergio Llull had 12 points and Fernandez 10 in victory. Shields had a game-high 18 points for Milan and Sergio Rodriguez scored 10 in a losing effort.
The teams opened the game on fire. Nigel Williams-Goss opened Real's tally with a three-pointer, with Nicolo Melli answering with a corner triple for Milan. After Causeur and Troy Daniels traded threes, big man Vincent Poirier also nailed one from long range to make it 8-11. But Milan answered with a 7-0 run, capped by a runner from Rodriguez, and the hosts led 19-14 before Anthony Randolph and Yabusele cut it to 19-18 after 10 minutes.
Yabusele got going, knocking down a pair of triples early in the second, followed by a long jumper to make it 23-26. Shields took it to the rim, but Real scored the next 9 points, with Fernandez getting a lucky roll on a three-pointer and Llull beating the shot-clock with a long three to lead 25-35. Shields beat the buzzer with a layup to make it 27-35 at halftime.
Shields opened the third quarter with a triple ad then followed it up with a steal and a fastbreak dunk to fire up his team and the crowd. But Real answered with a pair of fastbreak baskets, including a triple from Causeur. Delaney had a pair of baskets for the hosts and added a long jumper that cut it to 40-44. Causeur and Giampaolo Ricci traded three-pointers before Randolph and Rodriguez exchanged layups, only for Fernandez and Llull making a triple apiece for the visitors late in the third, making it 48-55 after 30 minutes.
After Ricci knocked down a three-pointer early in the fourth, another three-pointer from Llull sparked a 2-10 Real run during which Yabusele hit a turnaround jumper, Causeur nailed a triple, and Llull capped it with a fastbreak layup to make it 57-67 with under 6 minutes to go. Ben Bentil had a dunk and Rodriguez a triple, but Fernandez and Causeur scored easy baskets to keep the margin in double figures. Milan made one final push, and a triple from Shields got the hosts within 67-73 with 1:21 to go. Then Datome made a pair of free throws and a tough three with 23 seconds left to cut the margin to 72-74. Causeur and Hanga missed free throws, allowing Devon Hall to go the free-throw line with 5 seconds left, and Milan trailing 72-75. Hall made the first one, purposely missed the second one, Milan got the offensive rebound and Delaney fired a corner three that just rimmed out, as Real pulled out the victory.
Shooting percentages make the difference
Real shot the ball really well in this game. Los Blancos nailed 13 triples on 27 attempts (48.1%). It was arguably their best three-point shooting night of the season, as they tied their season-high in triples made, and knocked them down with second-best accuracy of the first 16 games.
Real was not particularly dominant inside, but still made more than half of its two-point shots (15 for 29). That was significantly better than what the hosts shot. Milan was 17 for 40 on two-pointers (42.5%) and just 8 for 23 from long range (34.8%).
Shot-blocking milestone for Tavares
Walter Tavares moved into third place all-time in blocked shots. Tavares entered the game with 248 blocks for his career and had 3 blocks - all in the first half - to overtake Fran Vazquez who ranked ahead of him with 249. In the process, Tavares became only the third player in EuroLeague history who reached 250 career blocked shots, behind only all-time leader Bryant Dunston (279) of Anadolu Efes Istanbul, and Milan's Kyle Hines (270).
Tavares got into foul trouble early in the third quarter and finished with 5 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks for the night, however still managed to pull down a key offensive rebound in the final seconds that allowed Real to run 10 seconds off the clock with a 3-point lead.
Real and Milan continue their trends
Real now holds a 16-3 record against Milan this century and this was the fifth game in a row between these two teams that neither team has scored more than 80 points. After Real scored at least 88 points and averaged 94.3 in six games, all wins, against Milan between October 2016 and March 2019, in the last five games over the last three seasons, Milan has held Real to 75.0 points. This was also the seventh consecutive game between Real and Milan decided by a single-figure margin; five of those have been decided by 5 or fewer points.
Thursday, December 16, 2021