Danilo Gallinari drilled a pair of big three-pointers in the final 90 seconds to lead Armani Jeans Milano to its first home win of the season, 77-69, over Aris TT Bank on Wednesday night. The win kept Milano’s slim hopes of reaching the Top 16 alive for another week, while the loss extended Aris’s wait to seal its ticket. Gallinari had his best game in weeks scoring 16 second-half points to reach 20 for the first time since November. It was a thrilling fourth quarter, which featured seven lead changes until Travis Watson, who also posted a monster game in the paint, gave Milano the lead for good with a basket inside. Then Gallinari stepped up with his first clutch three, which was matched by Aris captain Terrel Castle. However Gallinari had another bomb in his bag to lift Milano. Aris tried to match, but Dimitrios Tsaldaris’s wild three wasn’t even close and Melvin Booker iced the win from the line. In addition to Gallinari’s 20 points, Watson added 17 points and 13 boards for the winners and Booker scored 11. Bracey Wright led Aris with 16, scored 14 and Castle 13 for Aris, while star power forward Jeremiah Massey was limited to just 8 points and 4 rebounds as the hosts won the battle of the boards 40-18.
Gallinari fed a cutting Watson for the game’s first points, before Tsaldaris answered with a pull-up jumper. Booker pushed the hosts out ahead with a jumper and soon after a three-pointer, but Aris answered with back-to-back triples by Hanno Mottola and Castle. A Gallinari spin move followed by Dusan Vukcevic’s first triple put Armani Jeans ahead 12-8. Mindaugas Katelynas got on the board with a nifty cut and Anthony Giovaccini went coast to coast for a layup to increase the Milano advantage to 8 midway through the period. Not known for his scoring, Tsaldaris impressed with a creative move to the basket and then Lazaros Agadakos came off the bench for a free throw to cut the gap to 20-16 at the end of the period.
Katelynas’s energetic play resulted in another pretty bucket early in the second period, but a Vladimer Boisa triple brought Aris closer. Pietro Aradori scored on the offensive glass as Milano showed it was ready to fight for the win. With Massey on the bench, Wright got things going for the visitors with a pair of three-pointers that put Aris on top, 24-25. Giovaccini and Georgios Kalaitzis traded baskets before Wright beat the shot clock with a sweet drive that tied the score, but Giovaccini was having his best game of the season with a basket-plus-foul. Kalaitzis fed Agadakos in the paint just before the end of the period to make it 35-33 at halftime.
Ansu Sesay opened the second half with a strong three-pointer, but Massey finally got his name in the scoring books at the other end. Tsaldaris sank a three and was fouled, but missed a chance to turn it into a four-point play when his free throw rimmed out. The foul was Booker’s fourth, sending him to the bench and bringing back Giovaccini. Gallinari threw down a slam, but Mottola matched from the line. Vukcevic put Milano up 45-40 with a triple before Wright drove for 2 points. Tsaldaris added another bucket as Aris stayed close behind. Tsaldaris scored again and then Castle hit a big three to give the visitors the lead. Watson stepped up with an uncontested layup to tie the game at 49-49. Castle hit a free throw, but Aradori scored in transition to help Milano regain a 51-50 edge. Massey made free throws that Watson erased with a second-chance layup. Castle sank another triple and Giovaccini committed an offensive foul at the other end – his fifth, meaning he would spend the rest of the night on the bench – as the third quarter ended with the visitors picking up some momentum, 54-55.
Reyshawn Terry fouled out for Aris early in the fourth quarter, but that didn’t effect Wright, who netted a perimeter jumper. Vukcevic fed Watson inside for a bucket, and then Watson was fouled on the glass at the other end, allowing him to tie the game at 57-57 from the line. Massey finally looked like himself with a slam in transition and Sesay’s attempts to answer with a big slam went wrong went he threw it off the rim. Kalaitzis bounced in a big three to make it 58-62. After a timeout, a Booker steal and pull-up jumper got his team within 2 and after Wright traveled, Gallinari stepped up with a triple from the top of the key to give the hosts the lead once more. Aris went to Massey inside, but Gallinari responded from the line as the tension grew. Wright hit a short jumper, but Wastson scored in the paint. Another Gallinari three with 1:30 remaining looked like the game-winner until Castle stepped up with a three of his own. However it was Gallinari once more who took a pass from Watson and drained a triple with 37 seconds left for a 4-point lead. After an Aris timeout, Tsaldaris forced a three that didn’t come close and after Booker secured the free throw, he was fouled. Booker made 2 to ice a sweet win.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008