Sikma, Lammers lift ALBA over Monaco
ALBA Berlin got back to winning ways by downing AS Monaco 92-84 on Wednesday night in the German capital. ALBA snapped its three-game losing streak and pushed its record to 6-11, the same as Monaco which has now lost seven of its last eight games. ALBA used a strong finish to the second quarter to take a 40-30 lead into halftime and controlled the game in the second half before withstanding a fourth-quarter run from Monaco. Ben Lammers paced the hosts with 18 points and Marcus Eriksson netted 15, Maodo Lo 12, Jaleen Smith 10 and Luke Sikma returned from injury to post 8 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals. Mike James had 25 points and 8 assists for Monaco and Donatas Motiejunas scored 14 of his 23 points in the first quarter. Alpha Diallo added 11 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists and Paris Lee scored 10 in defeat.
Monaco scored the first 8 points of the game, including back-to-back triples from Motiejunas and Ouattara. Lammers with a jumper and Eriksson with a triple got ALBA going, but a three-point play from Motiejunas made it 9-15. Johannes Thiemann and Eriksson hit back-to-back threes to tie it. Motiejunas scored twice more inside to get his tally to 14 points and give Monaco a 17-19 lead. ALBA finished the first quarter in front 23-21 after a short jumper from Oscar da Silva and a fastbreak layup from Louis Olinde.
Ouattara had a three-point play and Donta Hall scored inside for Monaco early in the second, but Lammers dunked and Jaleen Smith nailed a three-pointer to make it 32-26. The visitors were held without a basket for almost 3 minutes before James snapped a 0-7 run, but a triple from Lo opened a 35-28 lead and a last-second long-range shot from Lammers to end the first half made it 40-30 at the break.
Dwayne Bacon scored from long range and Motiejunas from close range, but Lammers scored 7 points, including a dunk-plus-foul for a 49-37 advantage. James had a pair of jumpers and Motiejunas a pair of layups as the visitors closed within 51-46. da Silva and James traded three-point plays before Eriksson banked a jumper and nailed a 9-meter triple to lead 63-51. Diallo snapped a 7-0 run with a three-pointer, but jumpers from Tamir Blatt and Smith increased the margin to 69-56 after 30 minutes.
Paris Lee and Smith traded triples to open the fourth quarter and Lee added 5 more points, including another triple. Olinde's dunk snapped a 0-9 run, but Lee took it to the rim and James made a floater to get Monaco within 76-74. After Zoosman and Diallo exchanged three-pointers, Lo scored 5 points - a driving layup and a layup-plus-foul - to open an 86-78 lead with 2 minutes to go. James gave hope to the visitors' with a three-pointer, but ALBA closed the game out.
ALBA sets two-point shooting club record
ALBA is better known for its three-point shooting and entered this game having made just 50.2% of its two-pointers, which was third-lowest in the EuroLeague. But the Berliners finished this game at 71.8% two-point shooting, the club record in EuroLeague play. ALBA had never before shot better than 70% in a EuroLeague game, but in this one the team missed only 9 two-point shots on 32 attempts. ALBA made all of its 7 two-pointers in the first quarter, then missed 3 two-point shots in each of the last three quarters. Considering that both teams shot below 34% from long range, ALBA's 23-for-32 shooting on twos made the difference in this contest.
ALBA's second quarter keys the victory
In a high-scoring affair, the key was the second quarter during which ALBA held Monaco to just 9 points. The visitors were held to just 4-for-10 shooting on two-pointers and 0-for-6 on threes and ALBA forced 4 turnovers in that quarter. It resulted in the hosts turning a slim deficit into a 10-point halftime lead.
Monaco was forced to play from behind the rest of the game and ALBA never relinquished the lead. The visitors made a run in the fourth quarter and got within 2 points, but the halftime lead gave ALBA confidence to never lose control of the game and secure victory.
Another superb all-around performance from Sikma
Luke Sikma returned to action after missing three games, but he never missed a beat. Even though he made a rare appearance off the bench and played a below-average 23 minutes, he was at his usual all-around self. Sikma finished with 8 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists and 2 steals and drove the Monaco defense crazy with his vision that set up his teammates with dunks, easy layups or open three-pointers. It was the second time this season Sikma had at least 8 rebounds and 7 assists in a game.
Wednesday, December 22, 2021