Olympiacos escapes drama, downs Milan
Olympiacos Piraeus took control early and never looked back in an 87-80 win over visiting AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan on Friday night. Olympiacos got back into a tie for first place in the standings with 12-4 record, while Milan dropped for to 4-12, tied for the league’s worst record. The Reds opened a double digit lead in the first quarter, and a 13-2 second-quarter run helped the hosts open a 16-point lead. The margin was as big as 19 points in the second half, and Olympiacos kept control until Milan’s very late charge, but Olympiacos never allowed the visitors closer than 5 points. Kostas Papanikolaou had 15 points and 7 rebounds for Olympiacos, and rookie Kyle Wiltjer had his season-best also with 15 points. Vassilis Spanoulis paired 14 points and 7 assists, Ioannis Papapetrou scored 11 points, and Vangelis Mantzaris had 8 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds in victory. Andrew Goudelock finished with 20 points, and Curtis Jerrells scored 15. In his first game for Milan, Mindaugas Kuzminskas registered 12 points. Kaleb Tarczewski also scored 12, and Vladimir Micov netted 11 in defeat.
Olympiacos nailed four triples in the first four and a half minutes. The first and last in that run came from Spanoulis, with one apiece from Mantzaris and Georgios Printezis in between to open a 14-6 margin. A fastbreak layup from Papanikolaou opened a double-digit lead before Jerrells hit Milan’s first three. Tarczewski scored inside for the visitors, but the Reds dominated offensive boards and Papapetrou finished a fastbreak with a dunk to increase the margin to 24-13. Jerrells and Kuzminskas, the latter with his first points in Milan uniform, cut the deficit to 26-17 at the end of the first, and the same two players cut the margin to 26-21 early in the second, but Wiltjer hit two and Papapetrou one triple, and Wiltjer scored a dunk and a reverse layup to push the margin to 39-23. Goudelock snapped a 13-2 run with a jumper, and Jerrells fed Tarczewski for a big dunk, but Milan did not manage to cut into the margin too much as the hosts held a 48-34 lead at halftime.
The teams traded punches after the break. Mantzaris hit a three-pointer that helped Olympiacos extend the lead to 55-37. After Jerrells hit a transition three on the other end, Papanikolaou and Jamel McLean kept the margin at 17 points. Micov had a pair of baskets, and after Papanikolaou and Jerrells traded triples, fastbreak baskets from Papanikolaou and Papapetrou made it 70-53 after three quarters. There were no baskets for almost 3 minutes in the fourth quarter until Wiltjer beat the shot-clock with a tough baseline jumper, opening up a 72-53 margin. The rhythm slowed down, and Milan trimmed the deficit to 74-60 with a three from Micov and a three-point play from Goudelock. Andrea Cinciarini and Kuzminskas combined for 6 points, and Goudelock nailed a three to get Milan to 77-69 with under 2 minutes to go. Goudelock hit two more triples before game’s end, but it was too little too late for Milan.
Friday, January 5, 2018