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.
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.