Team effort started, James finished the job for Monaco

Oct 30, 2021 by by Darius Garuolis Print
Team effort started, James finished the job for Monaco

AS Monaco signed Mike James in the off-season because of his experience in big games. And while James’ teammates did the heavy lifting for much of the game against CSKA Moscow on Friday night, he stepped up in the fourth quarter and did his job by finishing off the big win.

James’ numbers for the game were not off the charts as he contributed 10 points, 2 rebounds, 8 assists, and 5 steals in Monaco’s exhilarating 97-80 victory over CSKA - a win that came after the hosts were down by 22 points early in the second quarter.

James’ teammates took turns getting the team back into the game and taking the lead - Donta Hall and Danilo Andjusic in the second quarter and Paris Lee and Brock Motum especially in the third quarter. But it was James who carried Monaco to the win at the finale.

"In the end, he absolutely controlled the game," said Monaco’s head coach Zvezda Mitrovic of James, who collected 6 points, 1 rebounds, 4 assists and 3 steals in the final 10 minutes.

"We needed a win for sure," said James. "We wanted to come out here and fight. They’re obviously a great team. They have Final Four aspirations. It was good to get a win and protect our home."

There was so much attention on James ahead of the game as he prepared to face off against his former team CSKA for the first time. But he was slow to have an impact. He didn’t start the contest and by the time he entered the game in the first quarter Monaco was already down 4-15. And he didn’t score his first points until 3:32 minutes left in the first half.

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And while James carried the EuroLeague debutant in the final quarter, it was an impressive team performance which got Coach Mitrovic’s guys back into the game from that 22-points deficit.

"With one or two players, you cannot beat CSKA. You need the whole team together at a high level of basketball," the coach said, and he certainly got that.

Mitrovic added after the game that he usually doesn’t like to praise any one player but, besides commenting on James’ fourth quarter, he also highlighted Lee as the game changer.

"When Paris came back into the game the second time, he really changed the game. I don’t like to single out players usually. But one name for tonight, it was Paris Lee," he said of the guard, who collected 9 of his 11 points - on two three-pointers and a three-point play - 1 steal and 1 assist and high level defensive intensity in a 24-5 run that took the score from 41-57 to 65-62 in the third quarter.

All told, James and Lee were just two of seven Monaco players who scored in double figures. So, sure, James had the team on his shoulders in the fourth quarter, but he was also helped to that point in a great team win for Monaco.