For more than 39 minutes of AX Armani Exchange Milan’s home meeting with LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne on Thursday night, Devon Hall was experiencing a night to forget as quickly as possible.
As an exciting game entered its final minute with the outcome in the balance, Hall had missed all five of his attempted shots, as well as providing zero assists and zero rebounds in more than 20 minutes on the court. His only positive contribution to the stats sheet was a solitary steal, and two fouls committed gave him an overall PIR of minus six.
This was very surprising because Hall had delivered a string of solid performances during his opening appearances in Milan colors following his summer move from Brose Bamberg. In the first four games of his rookie EuroLeague season, Hall had scored in double digits on every occasion, making 50% of his three-point attempts and scoring at least 3 triples in the last three games.
Thursday, however, looked like an entirely different matter as he failed to make any positive impression upon the action. But players do not become good enough to play in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague without strong doses of resilience and Milan Coach Ettore Messina also showed his ongoing faith in Hall by overlooking his past struggles on the night and bringing him back into the action with 2:20 remaining and the game tied, 69-69.
After Shavon Shields split free throws, ASVEL’s red-hot guard Elie Okobo struck his third three-pointer of the night, and so the game headed into the final minute with Milan in possession and trailing by 2. With the shot clock running low, Malcolm Delaney found the hot hand of Shields, the home team’s leading scorer. His driving layup was contested by two defenders and no good, but Kyle Hines showed his nose for the ball by grabbing an offensive rebound and immediately kicking it out to the perimeter.
There, waiting for his chance, a couple of feet outside the three-point line, was Devon Hall. Devon Hall, who had failed to score all night and not even attempted a shot since the very first play of the fourth quarter, some 20 minutes earlier. To say he was cold was an understatement. Did he hesitate, betraying a lack of confidence in his form? Not even for a split second, instead relying on the deeply ingrained technique that has taken him so far in his young career.
Catch. Shoot. Score.
Easy as you like, the ball sailed through the hoop to give Milan a lead that would not be relinquished, despite two attempts on the final buzzer from ASVEL.
They say that great teams never stop believing they will win, and the same applies to great shooters: no matter how tough their game has been, they never stop believing they will score. On Thursday night, Devon Hall showed that he belongs in that category, and so Milan remains perfect.