In a thriller, AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan grabbed its third win of the young EuroLeague season by edging Khimki Moscow Region 81-80 at home on Thursday.
Milan improved to 3-1 in the standings, while Khimki dropped to 0-4. Mike James led the winners with 25 points and 8 assists, including the game-winning free throws with 3.3 seconds remaining. Dairis Bertans added 16 points and Arturas Gudaitis posted 13 points and 13 rebounds for Milan. Jordan Mickey led Khimki with 26 points on 12-of-15 two-point shots. Alexey Shved added 19 and 10 assists and Dee Bost had 14 points for the visitors.
Three-pointers by Bost and Charles Jenkins gave Khimki an early 6-10 lead. Jeff Brooks and James stepped up for Milan and a dunk by Kaleb Tarczewski gave his team a 14-13 edge. Bost kept pushing the visitors, but James and Gudaitis allowed Milan to get a 23-20 lead after 10 minutes. Khimki found a go-to guy in Mickey, who dunked three times and added a close basket for a 28-34 lead. Mickey dunked again and a triple by Bost made it an 8-point game, which Micov and Bertans cut to 39-45 at halftime. A wild three-point play by James and a triple by Bertans helped Milan tie the game at 49-49, right after the break. James joined the three-point shootout and Bertans hit another one from downtown, and another, which prompted Khimki to call timeout at 62-57. A red-hot Bertans kept the hosts ahead at 66-62, after 30 minutes. Six unanswered points by Mickey saw Khimki regain the lead, 66-68, with six minutes left. Mindaugas Kuzminskas and James rescued Milan, giving it a 74-70 edge with three minutes remaining. Sergey Monia buried a three-pointer and a layup by Shved put Khimki ahead, 74-75, with 1:20 left. A step-back triple by Monia gave the guests a 78-80 edge with 24 seconds to go. James was fouled while taking a three-point shot and hit all three attempts for an 81-80 lead with 3.3 seconds left. Shved and Monya both missed in the final seconds.
Gudaitis came off the bench and made things happen with a big double-double — 13 points and 13 rebounds. He drew 7 fouls and finished the game with a PIR of 22. He was the main reason why Milan outrebounded Khimki by 40-30. He grabbed 5 of his team's 13 offensive boards.
A wild three-pointer by Monia gave Khimki a 78-80 lead with 24 seconds left. Mike James took matters into his own hands, asked for the ball and drew a foul while taking a three-point shot with 3.3 seconds remaining. He kept his cool and made all 3 free throw attempts to ensure Milan another win.
Milan did a great defensive job on Shved, who could not find many open looks from downtown. Shved had fired in 21-of-45 three-point shots in the opening three games (46.7%). He was limited to just 1-of-10 (10%) in this game in one of the biggest keys for Milan's victory.
Did you notice?
Despite taking a much better care of the ball, Khimki lost 81-80. Khimki had 20 assists and just 7 turnovers for a ratio of 2.85 assists-to-turnover. Milan had 13 assists and 15 turnovers for a 0.87 ratio, but won the game, which is what matters.
Both teams return to action on Friday, November 2. At 18:00 CET, Khimki hosts Herbalife Gran Canaria, in a rematch of the 2015 7DAYS EuroCup Finals. Khimki swept the two-series and conquered its second EuroCup title. At 20:45 CET, Milan welcomes Anadolu Efes Istanbul, in a rematch of the 1996 Korac Cup finals. Efes won on point-difference and lifted the first European trophy in Turkish sports history.