AX Armani Exchange Milan protected its position in the top four with an 84-74 home win over rock-bottom Khimki Moscow Region.
A high-scoring start saw Milan hold a 29-26 lead at the end of the first, before the home team surged into a double-digit lead, 56-43, at halftime. A 9-0 run at the start of the second half sent the difference past 20 points and the hosts were never troubled after that as the scoring slowed. Kyle Hines bagged a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Shavon Shields top scored with 17 points. Luigi Datome (15), Sergio Rodriguez (13) and Kaleb Tarczewski (10) also scored in double figures for the hosts. The excellent Jordan Mickey led Khimki’s challenge with a double-double of 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Errick McCollum added 15 points, Sergey Monia scored 12 and Dairis Bertans had 11. Milan improved to 17-9, while Khimki remained on just two wins.
Mickey scored twice and blocked a shot to give Khimki a fast start and Sergey Karasev’s finish underneath the basket made it 2-6. Datome hit a pair of three-pointers to send Milan ahead and Kevin Punter’s long two gave the host a 12-9 advantage. Tarczewski dunked and Shields added a layup and one as the lead grew, but Mickey and McCollum quickly pulled it back to 19-15. Mickey continued his great first quarter with another dunk, but Malcolm Delaney and Shields hit mid-range strikes to keep Milan ahead. Hines dunked, but McCollum made a three-point play to make it 29-26 after 10 minutes. The second frame began with Monia tying it up from deep, but Rodriguez hit a triple, Datome added a jumper and Tarczewski threw down an alley-oop as Milan took control. Datome again struck from deep before Egor Vyaltsev snapped the 10-0 run with a long two. Delaney and Bertans traded three-pointers as did Riccardo Moraschini and Bertans, before Datome and Shields added further threes to make it 56-43 at the break.
Delaney and Shields started the second half with smooth two-point strikes and Hines added a big putback slam for a 63-43 lead. Monia scored Khimki’s first points of the half with a three-pointer. A run of slow scoring was ended by Rodriguez netting a triple, before free throws brought Khimki closer, 70-56, at the end of the third. Rodriguez was on target from long-range again to start the final period, but Mickey and McCollum scored again to keep Khimki hoping, 73-60. Both offenses continued to struggle as the visitors came within 75-64, but Hines threw down a dunk and added a left-handed hook to keep Milan comfortable. Bertans made a three-point play to come back to 79-71 with 2 minutes remaining. Another alley-oop from Tarczewski restored a double-digit lead and ensured there would be no late comeback from Khimki.
Milan seals game either side of break
With Jordan Mickey shining, Khimki traded blows evenly with Milan in the opening stages. But the home side dominated either side of halftime, 41-35 to 65-43 with a 24-8 run over the course of 6 minutes to take control for good.
Evans makes Milan debut…briefly
Jeremy Evans gained his first minutes in a Milan jersey after joining the team earlier this week. Evans entered the game early in the third quarter against his former team, but didn’t spend long in the action, grabbing 3 rebounds in his 4 minutes and 30 seconds on the court.
Shved joins Khimki absentees
Scoring star Alexey Shved joined a long list of absentees for Khimki, which came into the game with just ten players. Janis Timma, Stefan Jovic, Evgeny Valiev and Devin Booker were also absent.
Khimki starts the double week with a home game against Real Madrid in Round 27 on Tuesday, and the following night Milan has a high-profile home game with fellow playoff hopeful Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul.