Hackett, James lift CSKA over Milan
Daniel Hackett scored a career-high 28 points and Mike James dished 11 assists in leading CSKA Moscow past their former team AX Armani Exchange Milan 78-75 in the first-ever Turkish Airlines EuroLeague game in Kaliningrad on Thursday night. CSKA won its third straight game and improved to 11-5 and a share of fourth place, while Milan dropped to 8-8. Neither team held a double-digit lead in this game. Milan led 32-41 in the opening minute of the third quarter, but CSKA quickly erased the deficit and - led by downtown shooting from Hackett and Johannes Voigtmann - built a 74-65 lead before holding on for the victory. Hackett shot 6 for 9 from three-point land, another career-high, and also had 4 assists and 4 steals. James finished with 17 points, 11 assists and 6 rebounds, while Voigtmann collected 14 points and 8 rebounds. Arturas Gudaitis and Sergio Rodriguez scored 13 points apiece for Milan, Kaleb Tarczewski had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebouds and Michael Roll netted 10 points in a losing effort.
CSKA took control early behind a triple from Voigtmann and a three-point play from Kyle Hines to open an 8-5 lead. Milan had four different scorers as Roll connected with a jumper and a runner on consecutive possessions, but Hackett scored 5 points, including a three-pointer, and Joel Bolomboy beat the buzzer with a fastbreak dunk to make it 19-13 after 10 minutes. Milan went inside often, first to Gudaitis and Luis Scola for close-range baskets, before Tarczewski strung together 7 points, including a basket-plus-foul, for a 0-12 run that Amedeo Della Valle capped with a second-chance three-pointer to make it 26-33. Milan held the hosts without a single point for almost 4 minutes and without a field goal for more than 6 minutes before Hackett hit a triple. Milan took a 32-39 advantage into halftime.
The visitors extended the lead to 9 points on the first possession of the third quarter. However, CSKA stormed back with Voigtmann hitting one and Hackett a pair of three-pointers from the right corner during a 13-0 run to put CSKA up 45-41. Vladimir Micov had a three-point play and Rodriguez a triple as the visitors went back in front. The two teams proceeded to trade leads. James hit a triple and a Darrun Hilliard a close-range basket that made it 59-54, but Milan answered by scoring the last 7 points of the quarter, with Rodriguez nailing a three-pointer and beating the buzzer with a jumper to make it 59-61 going into the fourth. Voigtmann and Hackett each hit a triple to put CSKA back in front before Hilliard had a pair of baskets. Hackett knocked down a transition triple that capped a 12-0 run and made it 74-65. Roll hit a jumper to stop the bleeding as Milan was not going away. The visitors did not allow another basket for more than 4 minutes and Rodriguez nailed a triple to cut it to 74-70. However, Hackett hit a floater to snap a CSKA drought and then scored a fastbreak layup to seal the outcome.
Milan head coach Ettore Messina came to play against the club he led to two EuroLeague titles and a total of six Final Fours in as many years, but not in Moscow. This clash happened to be the first-ever EuroLeague game played in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave of nearly 1 million people located on the Baltic Sea coast between Lithuania and Poland.
Key second-half runs
CSKA made its first big run early in the third quarter, a 13-0 charge that turned a 32-41 deficit into a 45-41 lead. Then again early in the fourth, a 12-0 run put the hosts up 74-65, giving them lead for good.
Beating their former team
This marked the fourth time this season a CSKA player hit 6 three-pointers in a game, following what Mike James has done twice and Darrun Hilliard once earlier this season. Hackett made the same number of three-pointers as the entire Milan team, his former club, which shot 6 for 21 on the night. For Hackett, 6 triples made and 9 attempted are both career-highs. Mike James, who arrived to CSKA from Milan this summer, had his first double-double of the season with 17 points and 11 assists, coming 1 assist shy of his career-best.
Streak goes on
CSKA has enjoyed clear dominance over Milan in recent years, now winning their last nine meetings. It is a streak that dates back to November 2010. Milan will have another shot at snapping this losing run in Round 34.
Both teams are done with EuroLeague action for 2019. Round 17 next week will take place in 2020. CSKA remains in Kaliningrad to host Panathinaikos OPAP Athens on Friday. That same evening Milan will welcome Zenit St Petersburg.
Thursday, December 26, 2019