Milan hold off Reds to extend win streak
AX Armani Exchange Milan extended its winning streak to five games despite wasting a big lead before fending off Olympiacos Piraeus 90-79 at home. Olympiacos fought back to knot the game after trailing by 18 points late in the first half, but Milan held the guests scoreless for the final 2 minutes in improving to 14-7. Kevin Punter scored a career-high 27 points to lead the way for Milan, while Malcolm Delaney collected 16 points, 4 rebounds, 5 assists and 3 steals, Sergio Rodriguez netted 14 points and Luigi Datome scored 12. Olympiacos has lost three of its last four games in falling to 11-11. Sasha Vezenkov paced Olympiacos with 18 points and 10 rebounds while Kostas Sloukas tallied 17 points and 7 assists.
Datome opened the game with a jumper for the hosts with Sloukas giving Olympiacos its first lead, 2-3, with a three-pointer. After Milan scored 5 straight points, the guests went on a 0-6 spurt to pull ahead 7-9. Punter stopped the run with a triple and Datome added another score for a 14-9 cushion. Rodriguez came off the Milan bench for 6 straight points and Datome’s three-pointer had the hosts up 24-19 after 10 minutes.
Rodriguez continued his strong game with a triple to start the second quarter to start a 7-2 surge for its first double-digit lead, 31-21. Shaquielle McKissic threw down a big dunk, but Milan scored the next 6 points and the advantage was 37-23. Another Punter triple helped push the margin to 44-26 only to see Olympiacos score the final 8 points with three-pointers by McKissic and Sloukas and the gap was 44-34 at the break.
Vezenkov started the second half with a three-pointer before Delaney responded with 3 free throws at the other end. Olympiacos used the long ball to get closer as Sloukas, Charles Jenkins and Georgios Printezis all drained three-pointers to get within 53-48. A Datome triple pushed the cushion back to 10 points, 58-48, but Olympiacos continued to fight back with triples from Vezenkov and Sloukas before Hassan Martin’s three-point play knotted it at 60-60. Another triple from Rodriguez had Milan up 65-62 after 30 minutes. Kaleb Tarczewski’s foul shot opened the final frame with Vezenkov knocking down a triple to get Olympiacos back within a single point, 66-65. Milan kept Olympiacos scoreless for nearly 3 minutes and Punter’s three-pointer had the margin back to 10 points, 77-67, halfway through the quarter. Olympiacos would not go away and Sloukas and Vezenkov hit from deep to make it 81-79 with 2 minutes to go. Milan continued to come up with answers with Delaney draining a three-pointer before Punter’s layup and three-pointer finished the game.
Return for Micov
The game marked the return to action for Milan’s Vladimir Micov, who had not played in the past six games. He finished with 2 points on 1-of-3 shooting in 11:12 minutes of action.
Kevin Punter was big all game for Milan as he not only set a new career mark with 27 points - on 8-of-12 shooting and 7-of-8 free throws - but he added 2 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 0 turnovers and 4 fouls drawn for an index rating of 33 - also a career-high.
Olympiacos won the battle on the glass 39-28 and took the second-chance points category 23-2. But Milan committed only 7 turnovers and converted 15 Olympiacos turnovers into a 23-7 advantage on points off turnovers. Milan also connected on 24 of 29 free throws compared to 9 of 11 from the line for the guests.
Milan will remain at home for Round 23 and welcome Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday, January 28. Olympiacos will return home and host FC Barcelona the same evening.
Tuesday, January 26, 2021