Bayern stops Milan, seizes seventh place
FC Bayern Munich picked up a big victory in the fight for the playoffs in beating AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan 93-87 at home to snap a two-game losing streak. Nihad Dedovic and Maodo Lo each scored 18 points, while Petteri Koponen and Stefan Jovic followed with 14 points apiece. Bayern improved to 9-9, including four wins in the last five at home, to take over sole possession of seventh place. The EuroLeague's leading scorer, Mike James of Milan, scored 31 points in the loss, while Arturas Gudaitis picked up 18 points and 10 rebounds and Dairis Bertans hit for 11 points. Milan dropped to 8-10.
The first four baskets were all three-pointers – two for each side – with Bertans making a three-point play and Gudaitis free throws at 6-11. James knocked down his second trey as the gap moved to 10-16. Bayern changed back ahead with an 11-4 surge with two triples by Lo and the hosts were up 23-22 after 10 minutes. Three more long balls from Koponen early in the second quarter kept Bayern up 32-28. Mindaugas Kuzminskas scored back-to-back baskets to keep Milan close at 34-32. But Derrick Williams converted a three-point play and Vladimir Lucic and Dedovic connected from long range for a 49-38 cushion. James was on target from outside as Milan fought back and was down 53-45 at the break. Bertans connected from deep to cut the deficit to 55-50 but Danilo Barthel did the same among his 7 points in Bayern's 12-2 run to pull ahead 67-52. James answered with a three-pointer and an assist in a 4-11 Milan spurt to trim the difference to 71-63. But Lo punched back from downtown and Bayern was up 77-68 after 30 minutes. Jovic's basket to start the fourth quarter increased the lead to 11 points but Bayern scored just one basket in 5 minutes and soon a dunk by Kuzminskas had the gap down to 81-77. Nonetheless, Williams came up with a huge three-point play and Lo nailed his fourth three-pointer as Bayern moved ahead 89-79 with 1:30 minutes left. Milan did not give up, scoirng 6 straight points, including James's 3 free throws at 89-85 with 37 seconds to play. But Dedovic answered with 4 free throws at the other end to ice the game.
Game changing sequence
Bayern watched Milan go on a 2-9 spurt to pull within 81-77 but Derrick Williams converted a three-point play and Maodo Lo's three-pointer made it 89-79 with less than 2 minutes left and that was enough to grab the win.
Outstanding James production
Mike James, playing in his 100th EuroLeague game, increased his competition-leading scoring average from 19.3 to 19.8 with 29 points to go with 5 three-pointers, 5 assists and 2 steals for a performance index rating of 31. He has now scored in double digits in his 25th straight game. He has also posted a double-digit PIR in 18 of the last 19 games and dished at least 5 assists in his last 19 appearances, dating back to last season's playoffs.
Bayern hit 9 of its first 10 three-pointers and ended up knocking down 12 of 18 (66.7%) from long range and prevailed despite forcing just 9 turnovers from Milan.
Bayern start a tough stretch of the schedule next week with a game at CSKA Moscow on Thursday of Round 19 – the first of five road games in the next six contests. Milan will remain on the road and face off against KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz on Friday.
Friday, January 11, 2019