Milan completes perfect Istanbul swing
AX Armani Exchange Milan held on late for a 69-72 victory over Anadolu Efes Istanbul on Thursday night at Sinan Erdem Arena. Milan won its second game in Istanbul in 48 hours after beating Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul on Tuesday to take its record to 9-5 on the season. Milan led by as many as 17 in the second quarter and trailed by as many as 6 in the fourth before Sergio Rodriguez led a 2-10 run over the game's final 4 minutes to secure the victory. Kevin Punter led the winners with 18 points on 4-for-4 three-point shooting, Shavon Shields scored 11, Malcolm Delaney 10 and Rodriguez dished 8 assists. Vasilije Micic paced Efes with 20 points and a career-high 8 rebounds plus 5 assists, Rodrigue Beaubois scored 13 and Bryant Dunston posted 11 points and 8 rebounds. The loss was Efes's third in a row and dropped its record to 7-8.
Dunston had a great start for Efes with a three-point play and 2 more free throws – plus 2 early fouls drawn from Kaleb Tarczewski. Beaubois then took over with a blocked shot, a jumper and a three-pointer for a 12-7 lead, after which Milan called timeout. Delaney and Beaubois exchanged threes before back-to-back triples by Shields and Luigi Datome gave Milan its first lead, 17-18. Micic briefly restored an Efes lead with a triple after which Jeff Brooks's layup evened things at 20-20 after 10 minutes. Shane Larkin got on the scoreboard with a three-pointer that tied the game at 24-24. Then Zach LeDay scored 5 points and Rodriguez dished a pair of assists in a 0-9 Milan run. LeDay soon added a three-point play for a double-digit lead, 26-36. The margin soared to 29-46 after a pair of threes by Kevin Punter – one of which was a four-point play – and another triple by Delaney. Krunoslav Simon's floater only drew Efes within 31-46 at the break.
Efes stepped up at the start of the third quarter behind Micic and Simon, who combined for the first 10 points in a 15-0 run. Adrien Moerman's hook shot tied the game at 46-46. Hines ended a nearly 5-minute-long scoring drought for Milan and also recorded a block on defense, but Dunston's steal and long pass to Simon for a layup tied it again. Micic drained a three for Efes's first lead of the half, 52-50, with a minute to go in the third quarter. A jumper by Datome evened it at 52-52 entering the fourth. Datome stringed another long jumper and Delaney added a floater as Milan regained control early in the quarter. Micic fought back with 7 straight points to make it 60-57. After Shields scored for Milan, Micic penetrated for his 9th point in 90 seconds. A three by Chris Singleton further stretched the Efes lead. Shields trimmed the deficit to 65-62 midway through the fourth quarter. Punter's deep three evened the game at 67-67 with 3 minutes remaining and Rodriguez's fastbreak layup put the visitors back on top. Punter scored again, but after the officials called Dunston for an offensive foul, an instant replay review overturned the call and Dunston made the resulting free throws with 1:36 left. It came down to the closing seconds when Micic missed and Milan escaped with a road win.
In a game that saw the visitors go on a 4-16 surge in the second quarter and then saw the hosts use a 15-0 start to the third quarter to climb back, Milan's 10-2 close to the game decided the outcome. Sergio Rodriguez, scoreless to that point, scored twice around an assist to Kevin Punter for a game-tying three-pointer to highlight the run.
Efes made just 15 of 38 two-pointers (39.5%), which was its second-lowest of the season behind only Tuesday's 35.6% in a road loss at CSKA Moscow. Milan converted 19 of 37 twos (51.4%).
Did you notice?
The victory was Milan's first-ever over Efes in Istanbul. Efes had won 14 home games in a row versus Milan dating back to their first meeting in December 2005. Six of those were by double figures. The closest Milan had ever come to beating Efes on the road was in January 2014, when Zoran Planinic banked in a three-quarters court prayer as time expired to claim a 61-60 victory.
Efes will face another stern test next week in Round 16 when it hosts FC Barcelona on Tuesday, December 22. Milan will be at home the next night to face TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz.
Thursday, December 17, 2020