AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan improved its playoff chances by rallying from 14 points behind in the second half to edge Khimki Moscow Region 88-90 on the road on Thursday despite a strong comeback from injured by Alexey Shved for the hosts.
Milan improved to 13-11 to retain sixth place while Khimki dropped to 9-15 and is still 13th overall. Mike James paced the winners, who completed a sweep of Khimki this season, with 16 points. Vladimir Micov and Kaleb Tarczewski scored 15 apiece, James Nunnally 13 and Curtis Jerrells 11 for Milan. Shved looked none the worse for his three-month layoff, leading Khimki with 23 points and 11 assists. Malcolm Thomas added 17 points while Charles Jenkins and Tony Crocker each scored 15 for the hosts, who led 65-51 late in the third quarter. That's when Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Nemanja Nedovic sparked a 1-16 run to turn the game around. Micov and James took over in crunch time to lead Milan to a critical road win.
Crocker got Khimki going with a three-pointer and Jenkins a driving layup but Tarczewski followed a dunk-and-free throw with an alley-oop slam for a 5-5 tie. Shved and Jenkins both struck from downtown as Khimki led 11-7. James hit a driving basket and Nunnally a triple for Milan, but Andrey Zubkov and Thomas each dunked to keep Khimki ahead 15-12. Jeff Brooks and Jenkins exchanged baskets before a three-pointer by Thomas gave the hosts a 20-14 lead. A dunk by Tarczewski and a floater by Nedovic kept Milan within 20-18, but Sergey Monia's triple let Khimki hold a 25-20 advantage after 10 minutes. Nunnally and Micov scored early in the second quarter, but Shved and Jenkins kept Khimki ahead 31-24 lead. Jordan Mickey followed an alley-oop dunk with a jump hook but Jerrells and Micov each struck from beyond the arc to bring Milan as close as 39-36. However, Monia joined the three-point shootout and Thomas soon dunked to force a Milan timeout at 44-36. Micov downed another triple, Thomas dunked again and Crocker made it a double-digit game, 50-39. James cut the difference to 54-45 at halftime. Micov and Shved traded jumpers right after the break and a layup by Jenkins restored a 58-47 Khimki margin. Tarczewski took over with his fifth dunk but Shved struck from beyond the arc and an outstanding Crocker made Milan call timeout at 65-51. Nunnally followed a jumper with a layup in a 0-6 run that Tarczewski capped with a slam. Shved and Crocker stepped up again for Khimki, giving the hosts a 73-65 margin after 30 minutes. A triple by Nedovic and a layup by Jerrells made it a three-point game, 73-70, early in the fourth quarter. Scores by Nedovic and Nunnally quickly tied the game, 74-74. Kuzminskas followed a three-pointer with a layup that not only completed the guests' comeback, but gave them a 74-79 lead after a 1-16 run. Thomas scored down low in response for Khimki, but Jerrells and Kuzminskas soon made it 76-83 with just over 4 minutes left. After a Khimki timout, Thomas hit consecutive layups and Shved a triple to suddenly tie it again at 83-83. Shved split free throws as Khimki went ahead, but Tarczewski scored inside to put Milan back in front, 84-85, with 1:23 to go. Jenkins and Micov traded three-pointers before free throws by James gave Milan a 87-90 lead with 16.2 seconds remaining. Milan fouled Shved, who missed his second attempt on purpose but Tarczewski grabbed the rebound, allowing Milan to seal the win.
Tarczewski had a rock-solid performance, dunking the ball six times on his way to 15 points while making 7 of 8 two-point shots. His only layup was a critical one, too, giving Milan an 84-85 edge with 1:23 left. He added 6 rebounds, 2 steals and a block for a PIR of 25.
A three-pointer by Jenkins gave Khimki an 87-85 lead going into the final minute, but Micov quickly answered from downtown on an assist by Nedovic. James added free throws and a late tactical foul by Nedovic, preventing Shved to try a three-point shot, allowed Milan to walk away with the crucial win.
Milan dominated in the paint, hitting 31-of-42 two-point shots. Its 73.8% inside the arc is a new club record for the Italian powerhouse. Its previous two-point shooting percentage record was 71.4% against Aris on November 22, 2007.
Did you notice?
Shved returned at his best level, setting a new season-high in assists (11) to go with 23 points for a PIR of 29. Shved has now posted a PIR of 21 or better in all of his nine EuroLeague games this season and has scored more than 20 points for the fifth consecutive game, too.
Next week, in Round 25, Milan visits CSKA Moscow on Friday. Later that night, Khimki travels to Fernando Buesa Arena, home of the 2019 Final Four, to face KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz.