Jerrells, Kangur provide spark as Milan tops Fenerbahce Ulker
EA7 Emporio Armani Milan fought off a big visitors’ rally and held on for a 90-85 win over Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul on Thursday night. The victory in the fashion capital improved Milan to 3-2 for at least a share of third place in Group E, while Fenerbahce dropped to 1-4 and sits in last place. Milan scored 10 points in the final 70 seconds of the second quarter, including Alessandro Gentile’s off-balance buzzer-beating triple for a 49-40 halftime lead. The margin was as big as 60-44 in the third quarter, but Fenerbahce – playing without its injured centers – bridged the third and fourth quarters with a 0-13 run to rally to within 64-62. However, Curtis Jerrells hit a pair of triples for the hosts to pull away, and with drama lurking, in the final minute Kristjan Kangur hit his fourth three-pointer in as many attempts to seal the deal. Daniel Hackett paced the winners with 17 points and 7 rebounds, while Jerrells scored 9 of his 15 points at the start of the fourth quarter. Keith Langford and Gentile each netted 14 apiece, while Kangur scored 12 off the bench. Fenerbahce was depleted by injuries to it big men; Luka Zoric left the game after only 90 seconds, and Gasper Vidmar late in the first half. Linas Kleiza tied his career-high with 26 points, and Nemanja Bjelica had 15 points in 39 minutes on the floor for the visitors. Emir Preldzic had 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists, Bo McCalebb also scored 12, while Bojan Bogdanovic finished with 11 in defeat.
First quarter: Visitors take control early
Preldzic went coast-to-coast for a layup in traffic to open the scoring. Gentile made a pair of free throws to open Milan's account and Nicolo Melli hit a jumper with his toes on the 6.75-meter line. At the other end, Vidmar made 3 of 4 free throws, while Bjelica made a mid-range jumper and a put-back as the visitors strung together 7 points to go in front 4-9. Samardo Samuels and Hackett each hit a couple of free throws, but the hosts did not score a field goal for more than four minutes. Meanwhile, McCalebb nailed a triple and drove for a layup, helping Fenerbahce to 8-16. Samuels scored twice from close range to get Milan going, and Gani Lawal slammed a put-back to get within 14-19. Kleiza quickly extended the lead to 9 with a pair of free throws and a layup. Lawal answered with another dunk, and Jerrells drove for a reverse layup, before Melih Mahmutoglu ended the first quarter with a jumper for an 18-25 lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Gentile and Milan turn it around with 31 second-quarter points
Kleiza hit a jumper and Bjelica drove for a monster dunk and a 20-29 lead. Langford scored a put-back, then drove the lane for a layup, before Jerrells made a steal and raced for an uncontested dunk. After a timeout by Coach Zeljko Obradovic, Kleiza hit from close range, but Kangur buried a wide-open one from long range for the hosts. McCalebb and Langford traded quick baskets, before Jerrells raced for another fastbreak basket to bring Milan within 33-34. Bjelica made a couple from the charity stripe for the visitors, but David Moss hit from long distance to tie it at 36-36. The game lacked rhythm due to a big amount of free throws, as the hosts limited Fenerbahce to baskets from the foul line in the final six minutes of the half, but Milan did not regain the lead until Hackett made a pair of free throws, 39-38, with two minutes left in the first half. Milan scored 10 points in the final 70 seconds of the second quarter. Gentile sparked things with a three-pointer, then finished a breakway with a layup. Hackett followed with a coast-to-coast driving layup before Gentile hit an impossible off-balance buzzer-beating triple over Preldzic for a 49-40 halftime lead.
Third quarter: Fener rallies with 0-9 run
Hackett started the scoring in the third quarter with a triple, and after Preldzic drove for a layup, Kangur hit another three for the hosts to lead 55-42. Preldzic and Gentile traded baskets, before Kangur nailed his third triple, 60-44. Kleiza hit a triple on the other end, but Langford had a fastbreak layup and Gentile dribbled his way to a close-range basket and a 64-49 advantage. Playing without its big men, Fenerbahce briefly turned to zone defense and strung together several stops, while Bjelica had a dunk and Bogdanovic made his first basket of the game in a 0-9 run to finish the quarter, cutting it to 64-58.
Fourth quarter: Milan escapes drama and holds on
Preldzic hit a tough jumper to keep the run going, and Mahmutoglu drove to the hoop and laid it high off the glass, 64-62. Jerrells snapped Milan’s drought with a step-back triple, and after trading layups with Bogdanovic, Jerrells sank another three-pointer to make it 72-64. Bogdanovic scored from long range, his first triple of the Top 16, and Bjelica hit one from downtown on the next trip down the floor, 74-70. Melli fought for a tip-in and Hackett buried a long jumper for the hosts, but Kleiza strung together 6 points, cutting it to 79-76 with under two minutes to go. Langford drove for a layup to keep Milan ahead and Kangur hit a triple from the left corner for an 84-77 advantage. Milan had victory in its pocket despite Preldzic and Kleiza scoring from close range, and Langford and Hackett combined to go 6 of 6 from the free throw line, not allowing the visitors to climb any closer, to seal the win.
Thursday, January 30, 2014