Unicaja beats Milan to finish season on high note
Unicaja Malaga snapped a four-game losing streak to finish its Turkish Airlines Euroleague campaign as a winner by beating playoff-bound EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 95-85 on Friday night at Martin Carpena Arena. The game was tied midway through the second quarter, but Unicaja used an 8-0 run to take a promising halftime advantage and pulled away with an 11-0 third-quarter charge. The win gave Unicaja a 6-8 record in Top 16 Group E, which placed it fifth. Milan dropped to 10-4, but had already clinched second place in the group. Vladimir Stimac paced the Unicaja attack with 16 points, Mindaugas Kuzminskas tallied 13 points and 9 rebounds, Zoran Dragic and Txemi Urtasun added 11 points apiece and Fran Vazquez scored 10. Unicaja outrebounded Milan 42-23, including 18 offensive rebounds to just 6 for the visitors. Keith Langford returned to the Milan lineup after missing three games due to injury and paced his team’s attack with 22 points. Gani Lawal added 16 points and 3 blocks, while Curtis Jerrells netted 13 points in defeat.
First quarter: Unicaja gets off to solid start
Unicaja started well as Dragic got to the line for 2 points and Mindaugas Kuzminskas scored in the offensive glass. C.J. Wallace opened the scoring for Milan with a jumper before tying the game at 4-4. Earl Calloway’s pass to a cutting Nik Caner-Medley helped the hosts keep a slim lead. Langford scored on the offensive glass for his first points of the game, but a long jumper by Calloway gave Unicaja an 11-8 advantage. Milan stormed back through a Samardo Samuels slam and a Kristjan Kangur triple to take its first lead, 12-13. Unicaja rallied back through Caner-Medley free throws and Ryan Toolson’s fast break layup. Stimac found a cutting Domas Sabonis to make it 18-13. Kangur converted a three-point play and Toolson free throws finished the quarter at 22-18.
Second quarter: Urtasun highlights hosts’ 8-0 charge
Bruno Cerella nailed a three for the visitors. Stimac wowed the fans with a strong move for a basket-plus-foul, but Lawal powered his way to a three-point play at the other end. Cerella split free throws to tie the game at 25-25. Unicaja went ahead on a Jayson Granger floater and a pair of Fran Vazquez scores at the rim. Five points over two possessions from Lawal tied the game at 33-33. Carlos Suarez and Cerella traded baskets. A technical foul on the Milan bench ignited an 8-0 Unicaja run in which Urtasun scored half the points. Jerrells was fouled shooting a three and made a pair of the resulting free throws. Calloway gave Unicaja a boost with a triple and a layup sandwiched, but Jerrells stayed strong and kept Milan within 48-41 at the break.
Third quarter: Unicaja dominates the proceedings as lead reaches 20s
Langford scored on the break to start the second half, but Dragic answered from downtown before a Stimac slam gave Unicaja a double-digit lead for the first time. After Samuels scored, layups by Stimac and Dragic boosted Unicaja to 59-45 and prompted a Milan timeout. Jerrells waltzed to a layup, but Unicaja remained in control. Granger assisted to Sabonis and Kuzminskas on consecutive possessions. He soon made free throws to extend the difference to 20. A Sabonis jumper and Stimac free throw extended to run to 11 unanswered points before Samuels scored in the paint. Wallace connected from downtown for his first points since the opening minutes. Urtasun responded with a second-chance triple. David Moss got his first points for Milan, but Stimac’s slam and Urtasun’s free throws allowed Unicaja to coast to a 77-54 advantage. A Cerella triple made it a 20-point game through three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Despite Toolson ejection, Milan’s rally falls short
Determined to not go down without a fight, Milan went inside to Lawal for a score and soon got a three-point play from Langford. Laway split free throws and added a steal and slam before Langford drilled a triple. Unicaja called timeout, but the momentum remained with Milan as Langford’s steal resulted in a Lawal dunk that cut the difference to 79-70. Vazquez scored on the glass and Granger drove for a tough layup as Unicaja regained its composure. Langford flashed another tough bucket only to see Vazquez score in the paint. Vazquez and Kuzminskas slams practically ensured a Unicaja victory. Jerrells connected from behind the arc and Lawal registered an impressive block of Kuzminskas. Kangur scored next, but time was running out for Milan. A late Toolson ejection allowed Langford to rack up 3 free throws and a three-pointer, but a Kuzminskas basket with 30 seconds left ended any doubts about the outcome.
Friday, April 11, 2014