Panathinaikos survives at OT buzzer in Milan
Panathinaikos Superfoods Athens kept its hopes alive for gaining home-court advantage in the upcoming playoffs with a nerve-wracking 95-96 road win on the buzzer in overtime on Thursday against heart-broken AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan. Mike James sent a one-hand pass toward the rim that James Gist never touched but somehow the ball dropped in, giving the Greens a serendipitous win in a game they trailed in early and often. Panathinaikos raised its record to 19-11. To gain home-court advantage, the Greens now need Olympiacos Piraeus (19-10) or Real Madrid (18-11) to lose on Friday, but if both win, the Greens will end up fifth. Milan finished its season 10-20 despite leading for most of the game, at one point by as much as 17 points. Milan nonetheless needed 3 free throws by Dairis Bertans to force overtime, where it seemed set to win again until the last, fateful play. James, Nick Calathes and James Gist paced Panathinaikos with 18 points each, all coming up big late, as did Marcus Denmon with 12 points and Chris Singleton with 10. Milan got a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds from Arturas Gudaitis. Mindaugas Kuzminskas followed with 16 points, Andrew Goudelock with 13 and Davide Pascolo with 11.
Amath M'Baye buried a pair of triples while Calathes and Kuzminskas exchanged layups twice as Milan went up 10-4. Kaleb Tarczewski kept it going with a tip-in and Kuzminskas detonated a drop-step dunk, while Singleton and James joined the Panathinaikos scoring column. Goudelock drained a three that James answered with a teardrop. Thanasis Antetokounmpo fed Gist for a fastbreak dunk and Curtis Jerrells got his first points for Milan. After a timeout, a triple by Kuzminskas made it a double-digit lead, 22-12. Goudelock upped it with free throws that Nikos Pappas bettered with a three-point play to which Gist added a triple to make it 24-18. Free throws by Kuzminskas left a 27-18 score after 10 minutes and Pascolo's reverse restored Milan's double-digit advantage right after the break. Gist's put-back dunk and a triple by Singleton seemed to settle Panathinaikos at 29-23. But in a series of nifty plays, Pascolo fed a behind-the-back pass to Andrea Cinciarini, who led Kuzminskas for a dunk before lobbing long to Pascolo and suddenly it was 37-23. Kenny Gabriel hit a triple out of a timeout for the visitors, but Gudaitis responded with a pair of three-point plays, Goudelock added a runner and Tarczewski a layup to make it 47-30. Gist's free throws and a triple from Denmon cut the difference to 51-37, but Singleton's three-point play was offset by free throws from Awudu Abass for a 55-42 halftime score.
Baskets by Jerrells and Pappas around a triple by Antetokounmpo punctuated a series of free throws that let Panathinaikos get within 60-49 after the break. Antetokounmpo cut it further with a tough basket for a three-point play. M'Baye's baseline jumper fell before Jerrells stroked a sweet three to beat the shot clock at 67-52. Free throws from Kuzminskas let Milan match the biggest lead yet, 69-52, before Calathes drilled a corner triple and Gist downed a jump hook. James came back with free throws and a running layup to close the third quarter with Panathinaikos back within single digits, 69-61. Calathes, Adreian Payne and Singleton strung together baskets to lower the difference to 71-67. Gudaitis downed a put-back before Calathes drilled another triple at 73-70, making it a 4-18 run for Panathinaikos. Pascolo hit free throws for Milan then Gudiatis dunked a miss at 77-70. Free throws by James were answered by a runner from Pascolo. James scored inside then assisted Denmon for a big triple to make it 79-77. After a series of free throws, Calathes made a huge offensive rebound and dribbled around to hit a one-hander at 82-81. Gudaitis kept rebounding and got another pair of free throws, keeping Milan up 84-81 entering the final minute. Gist dunked on the baseline with 40 seconds left, and then after a Milan turnover, James skated through the lane for a go-ahead runner with 14.6 seconds left, 84-85. Goudelock missed a runner that let Denmon drop 2 more free throws before Singleton fouled Bertans on a three-pointer, letting him make 3 of 3 from the line to send the game to overtime tied 87-87.
Payne ended 2 scoreless minutes in overtime with strong move to the basket but Gudaitis came back with a dunk and free throws for Milan. James raced coast to coast to tie it, 91-91, before Goudelock drained a long two-pointer going into the last minute of overtime. Calathes found Gist for a strong basket that he turned into a three-point play and a 93-94 Panathinaikos lead with 26.5 seconds left, but Goudelock went the other way and nailed a sweet jumper that fell with 7.4 seconds left. Panathinaikos inbounded to James whose lob near the rim never made it to Gist but whether touched or not by a Milan player, found its way into the basket for the victory.
Thursday, April 5, 2018