Credit: Roman Kruchinin/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images
Credit Roman Kruchinin/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

After losing to Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz in their last Turkish Airlines EuroLeague game and forfeiting a nine-game winning streak, FC Barcelona (15-4) dropped their second straight contest. The Catalans lost to the visiting AX Armani Exchange Milan (11-6) 73-75 (14-14, 14-20, 26-13, 19-28).

Player of the Game
Sergio  Rodriguez
EFF
17
Sergio Rodriguez
Points 18
Accuracy 7-12
Rebounds 2
Assists 4

Milan started the fourth quarter on a 9-2 run to tie the game at 56. However, Rokas Jokubaitis and Kyle Kuric responded with five consecutive points to put Barcelona back up (63-59). Sergio Rodriguez and Malcolm Delaney answered with back-to-back threes as the lead changed hands once more (65-63).

Kyle Kuric drained a clutch 3-pointer down the stretch for Barca, cutting their deficit to a single point  (70-71). Delaney answered with his own long-range shot, but Nikola Mirotic nailed a 3-pointer a few seconds later (73-74).

Nicolo Melli only made one free throw with 4.9 seconds remaining to increase Milan's lead to two (75-73). Nicolas Laprovittola had a chance to win it for Barcelona, but his 3-pointer was off, and Milan survived with a two-point win.

This was the first time this season where Barca wasted a 10-point lead and lost.

Sergio Rodriguez led Milan with 18 points (3/6 2PT, 4/6 3PT), 4 assists, 2 rebounds, 1 steal, 4 turnovers, and 17 PIR.

Milan coach Ettore Messina was happy post-game but admitted that there is a long season ahead: "I think it's a good boost of confidence for all of us. We have to stay humble. We gotta keep working. It’s a long run. A lot of games left. We have to, I think, make up four games that have been canceled. So it's going to be very long."

Kyle Kuric stood out for Barcelona, gathering 22 points (5/5 2PT, 3/4 3PT, 3/4 FT), 5 rebounds, 1 assist, and 29 PIR. Kuric played his most efficient match in the EuroLeague. His previous best was 26 PIR.

Free throws this season

83%
15,5
Points made: 15,5
Accuracy: 83,1%
Place in standings: 1
Record max: 42
Record min: 4
Most made FTs: Nikola Mirotic

Delaney, who drained a clutch three at the end to seal the game was happy after finally winning in Barcelona: "It was tough. We never won here before. We came in with the mentality that we can win.

"We've been having a lot of players recover from COVID, some injuries, so we just wanted to keep it close and then in the fourth quarter try to make a push. I think we were in the same situation here last year and then they went on a, 20, 21-0 run. So to get to our ultimate goal, these are the wins we've got to get on the road."

Coach Jasikevicius was satisfied with his players' attitude after the match, but note that the game plan was not followed to the T. "We just could not understand that the Milan players are very strong going to the right and very strong in shooting. In this case, they cannot shoot and they cannot go to the right," Saras explained.

"This is the only thing as far as details go that I have a problem with. But the attitude and sacrifice of the players was at the highest level," Jasikevicius told the reporters after the match.

It was a physical and low-scoring first period. Sergio Rodriguez was on fire, scoring 10 of Milan's 14 points in the quarter. However, Barcelona's team effort was equally as good, and it was a tie contest after one (14-14).

The defensive battle continued in the second. Rodriguez nailed his third 3-pointer and added a last-second buzzer-beater to end the half on a high note and give Milan a six-point advantage (34-28).

However, things went South for Milan in the third quarter. Barcelona went on an impressive 19-2 run, led by Nikola Mirotic and Kyle Kuric (47-38). The visitors held a seven-point advantage going into the final period (54-47).

Milan: Sergio Rodriguez 18, Malcolm Delaney 15, Ben Bentil 8, Kyle Hines 8, Devon Hall 8, Nicolo Melli 8, Jerian Grant 6.

Barcelona: Kyle Kuric 22 (5 REB), Nikola Mirotic 18, Rokas Jokubaitis 11 (6 AST), Brandon Davies 11, Nicolas Laprovittola 6.

Highlights:

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Barselonos FC Barcelona
Milano Armani Exchange
53%
29/55
Field goals
50%
27/54
25
Rebounds
25
20
Assists
14
6
Steals
10
67%
6/9
Free throws
79%
11/14
65%
20/31
2-pointers
46%
17/37

Best players

Kyle   Kuric
22 PTS
8/9 FG
3/4 FT
Sergio  Rodriguez
18 PTS
7/12 FG
0/0 FT
Kyle   Kuric
5 REB
3 DREB
2 OREB
AX Armani Exchange Milan
Few players
4 REB
Rokas  Jokubaitis
6 As
1 TO
22 MIN
Sergio  Rodriguez
4 As
4 TO
21 MIN
Kyle   Kuric
29 EFF
100% 2P%
75% 3P%
Sergio  Rodriguez
17 EFF
50% 2P%
67% 3P%