James's three lifts Milan past Efes
AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan grabbed its third consecutive win in dramatic fashion by topping Anadolu Efes Istanbul 81-80 at home. Mike James led the winners with 15 points, hitting the game-winning three-pointer with a second left. Vladimir Micov added 14 while Arturas Gudaitis had 13 and 11 rebounds for Milan. Adrien Moerman led Efes with 23 points on 10-of-12 two-pointers. Vasilije Micic added 15 while Tibor Pleiss had 10 for the guests. Milan improved to 4-1 in the standings while Efes dropped to 3-2.
Three-pointers by Andrea Cinciarini and Jeff Brooks gave Milan an early 12-9 lead. James Anderson and Bryant Dunston stepped up for Efes but Cinciarini and Micov boosted the hosts' lead to 20-15. A dunk by Gudaitis and a layup by James made it a seven-point game, 24-17, after 10 minutes. Micov and Gudaitis kept pacing Milan and a jumper by Dairis Bertans gave his team a 31-19 margin. It didn't last long, however, as Shane Larkin and Dunston fueled a 0-12 run which Micic capped with a triple to bring Efes back to life, 36-33. Kaleb Tarczewski rescued Milan and a buzzer-beating three-pointer by Curtis Jerrells fixed the halftime score at 43-35. Bertans and James took over after the break for a double-digit Milan lead, 49-39. Micic cut his team's deficit to half, 52-47, but three-pointers by Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Micov and James allowed Milan to get a 68-54 margin after 30 minutes. Anderson and Moerman fueled an 0-8 run that gave Efes hope, 68-62, early in the fourth quarter. A three-pointer by Rodrigue Beaubois and a tip-in by Dunston soon brought the guests even closer, 76-74, with four minutes left. Pleiss made 4-of-4 free throws and a layup by James tied it at 78-78. Beaubois scored in penetration, James missed at the other end but Micic went 0-of-2 from the foul line with 16.9 seconds remaining. Milan had a final chance and James buried the game-winning shot at the buzzer.
Gudaitis came off the bench to get a double-double, 13 points and 11 rebounds. He hit 4-of-6 two-point shots, 5-of-5 free throws and added 3 steals, a block and 6 fouls drawn for a performance index rating of 28.
With 16.9 seconds left and Efes up 78-80, Micic missed two critical free throw attempts. James, who had hit 3-of-19 shots until that moment, proved to be Milan's leader by hitting the game-winning three with a second left despite nearly losing the ball to an attempted steal. Then Gudaitis deflected Micic's inbound pass to run the game clock down.
Milan's hustle was reflected in the stats – the hosts had 10 steals, 3 blocks and 17 offensive rebounds. That was the Italian team’s best mark in offensive boards since facing Panathinaikos on December 21, 2016.
Did you notice?
Milan won four of its opening five EuroLeague games for the first time this century. The last time it started the top competition with a 4-1 record was in the 1996-97 season, beating Ulker, Limoges, CSKA and Panionios, and losing against Maccabi.
Both teams return to Turkish Airlines EuroLeague action on Thursday, November 8. At 20:45 CET, Milan hosts still-undefeated CSKA Moscow in a rematch of the 1966 European Cup semifinal - Milan beat CSKA 57-68 behind 20 points by Bill Bradley and went on to win its first continental crown. An hour later, at 21:45 CET, Efes visits Herbalife Gran Canaria.
Friday, November 2, 2018