Langford leads EA7 Milan over Unicaja
EA7 Emporio Armani Milan moved into a tie for second place in Group E at the midway point of the Top 16 after blowing past Unicaja Malaga 70-59 on Thursday in the fashion capital. Keith Langford matched his season high with 29 points to lead the hosts, who improved to 4-3, which knocking Unicaja to 3-4. The Milan guard scored 12 in the first quarter as Milan took control and had 7 in a 9-0 third-quarter run as the lead grew to 20 points. Nik Caner-Medley helped Unicaja rally in the fourth quarter, but the visitors never got closer than 8. Nicolo Melli’s three-pointer with 95 seconds remaining triggered the celebrations for the hosts. Curtis Jerrells added 13 points and Samardo Samuels tallied 10 points and 7 rebounds for the winners. Caner-Medley led the Unicaja attack with 18 points and Vladimir Stimac amassed 13 points and 11 rebounds in defeat.
First quarter: Langford heats up early for hosts
Jayson Granger’s pull-up jumper provided the game’s first points a minute into the action. Daniel Hackett went inside for the hosts’ first score. Samuels made his impact with 4 points for Milan before Hackett free throws made it 8-4. Caner-Medley attacked the rim and was rewarded with a pair of free throws, but a Langford triple at the other end increased the Milan advantage. Caner-Medley and Davis Moss traded baskets before Stimac finished a fast break with a basket-plus-foul to make it 15-12. Stimac narrowed the difference to 1, however Langford darted to the hoop for a three-point play. Stimac and Langford each scored again to leave the scoreboard at 22-17 through 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Jerrells carries Milan to double-digit cushion
After two scoreless minutes, Curtis Jerrells brought the Milan fans to their feet with a sweet assist to Gani Lawal for a viscous slam. Two more minutes of tough defense followed before Rafael Hettsheimeir sank a three… But Jerrells countered with a pair from downtown to make it 30-20 midway through the quarter. Sergi Vidal’s basket was credited for Unicaja after a goaltending call on Lawal. Fran Vazquez rejected Samuels from behind, but the visitors failed to capitalize. Jerrells took advantage of a lapse in the Unicaja defense to dunk and restore a double-digit lead. Caner-Medley scored over C.J. Wallace before Zoran Dragic knocked down a jumper to close the gap to 32-26. After a timeout, Hackett sliced through the Malaga defense for a layup and Langford dunked on the break to restore a 10-point difference. Hackett fed Samuels inside for a slam that made it 38-27 at the break.
Third quarter: Langford highlights 9-0 run as lead touches 20
Dragic drove for a layup to open the second half and Mindaugas Kuzminskas scored a second-chance basket to make it 39-31. Milan countered through Samuels inside and Hackett from the line. Moss was forced to the bench with his fourth foul, but Langford let the fans forget about that with a lightning-quick drive. Caner-Medley scored at the other end, but a hustle play by Bruno Cerella opened the door for Langford to bury a three for a 47-35 lead midway through the quarter. A red-hot Langford added free throws and Cerella came through with a steal and a foul shot as the lead soared. Hackett connected with Langford to boost the advantage to 18. Ryan Toolson ended the Unicaja drought with a baseline jumper, however Melli hit back from downtown to make it 56-37. Langford’s total reached 24 points and the lead hit 20 on a free throw resulting from a technical foul on Malaga coach Joan Plaza. Vazquez split free throws as the visitors came within 57-40.
Fourth quarter: Caner-Medley and Unicaja’s rally falls short
Caner-Medley sandwiched a pair of threes around a Jerrells triple as Unicaja showed signs of life. After Lawal missed a dunk, Stimac scored a tip-in to narrow the difference to 60-48. Moss fouled out with more than six minutes to play. Carlos Suarez scored Unicaja’s next 6 points – 4 of them from the line – to make it an 8-point game. Melli rejected Caner-Medley and Langford sank a foul-line jumper to revive the Milan supporters. Stimac answered inside, but a two-chance Milan offense wasted time and finished with Langford at the line for another point. A Melli triple with 95 seconds remaining made it 68-56 and all but settled the outcome. A Toolson triple in the closing seconds and Langford jumper at the buzzer ended the game at 70-59.
Thursday, February 20, 2014