Milan uses muscles to sink Zvezda
AX Armani Exchange Milan led from start to finish en route to dismissing visiting Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 79-62 on Thursday night at Mediolanum Forum. Milan improved to a 6-1 and a share of first place, while Zvezda suffered its third consecutive loss, dropping to 2-5. Milan scored the first 13 points of the night and led by 20 points before the end of the first quarter. Zvezda fought and turned the game into a highly physical battle, but the visitors never got closer than 9 points the entire game. Shavon Shields paced Milan with 18 points, Troy Daniels netted 12, and Kaleb Tarczewski added 10 in the winning effort. Luka Mitrovic led Zvezda with 17 points and 7 rebounds and Ognjen Dobric scored 13 for the visitors.
Milan stormed out of the gate, opening the game with a 13-0 run, during which Shields hit 2 triples and Devon Hall another. Zvezda needed more than 6 minutes to score on Mitrovic's put-back layup. But Dinos Mitoglou had a three-point play and Daniels knocked down a pair of triples to make it 24-4 in the final minute of the first quarter.
Dobric and Stefan Lazarevic gave the visitors an offensive spark early in the second, with Dobric sinking his team's lone first-half triple. Dobric's fastbreak basket cut it to 28-15, but Mitoglou scored twice before a three-pointer from Luigi Datome opened a 35-17 margin. Mitrovic and Nate Wolters kept Zvezda in rhythm, closing the gap to 35-23, but Mitoglou and Kyle Hines scored inside before Shields hit another from the outside for a 43-27 halftime margin.
The teams traded blows early in the third. A corner three from Daniels made it 50-33, but Zvezda answered with a 0-8 run during which Austin Hollins scored 6 points, including a corner triple to get the deficit into single digits, 50-41. The teams often went to the free-throw line before Giampaolo Ricci hit a second-chance triple to help restore a 15-point margin. Aleksa Uskokovic nailed a three-pointer to end the third quarter at 62-50.
Sergio Rodriguez fed Tarczewski and Shields for easy baskets early in the fourth. A three-pointer from Rodriguez made it 72-53. Zvezda was not going to go away, responding with back-to-back fastbreak layups from Mitrovic and Nikola Kalinic. But Shields took it to the rim and Hall hit a step-back triple for a 77-60 cushion with 3 minutes to go.
Milan enjoys several key runs
AX Armani Exchange Milan kept Zvezda scoreless for the opening 6 minutes, during which the hosts scored 13 points behind triples from Shavon Shields and Devon Hall. The lead grew to 19-2, then 24-4, the largest of the night. As much as Zvezda tried, it was hard to think Zvezda could come back from such a deficit, especially against Milan's defense which ended up keeping the opponents once again well below the 70-point mark. The visitors did get within 9 points on several occasions in the third quarter, but Milan used a strong finish to the third and start of the fourth to restore a 19-point margin to cruise to victory.
Strong performances in limited minutes
Troy Daniels got his first extended playing time of the season, but still only spent 15 minutes on the floor. It was enough, however, as Daniels finished the game with 12 points on 3-for-4 three-point shooting. He gave Milan an important boost, as did center Kaleb Tarczewski. The big man scored 10 points, had 3 rebounds and drew 4 fouls, all in just 13 minutes on the floor. The two really stepped up to get Milan back to its winning ways, just 48 hours after the team suffered its first defeat of the season.
Zvezda and Mitrovic show heart
Zvezda fought hard after a disastrous start to the game and the biggest reason it had a shot at coming back was the play of Luka Mitrovic. The former team captain, who returned to the club after four years away, continues playing with heart and hustle. His energy and fight in the paint helped Zvezda dig itself out of the early hole, and his teammates followed his lead. Even though it was not enough at the end, Mitrovic could stand tall, finishing the game with 17 points and 7 rebounds - including 4 on the offensive glass, plus 3 assists, 2 steals and 1 block.
Thursday, October 28, 2021