Barcelona gets back on track against Zvezda
FC Barcelona got back to winning ways in Group E by downing Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade 92-77 on Friday at home in Palau Blaugrana. The victory improved Barcelona to 2-2 in Group E, while Zvezda dropped to 0-4 in its first Top 16 appearance. The hosts pulled away with a 12-0 run late in the second quarter that gave them a 49-38 lead at halftime. The visitors got within 53-46 early in the third quarter, but never closer. Ante Tomic and Marcelinho Huertas were creative with the ball, while Alex Abrines paced six double-digit scorers who kept increasing the margin, leading Barcelona to a comfortable win. Abrines finished with 15 points, Tomic collected 12 points and 10 rebounds, while Mario Hezonja also scored 12. Huertas had 11 points and 7 assists, Justin Doellman also netted 11, while DeShaun Thomas scored 10 in victory. Jaka Blazic finished as the visitors' top scorer with 13 point. Boban Marjanovic had 12 points and 7 boards, Marcus Williams netted 11, and Stefan Jovic contributed with 10 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 3 steals off the bench in defeat.
First quarter: Barcelona gets going on offense
Blazic opened scoring with a fastbreak dunk for the visitors, before Thomas got Barcelona going with a basket from close range. Tomic and Marjanovic traded inside baskets as Zvezda stayed ahead 4-6. Doellman's three-pointer gave Barcelona its first lead, but Branko Lazic answered with a corner triple for Zvezda. A jumper from Abrines tied it at 9-9 before Marjanovic made a put-back and Doellman sank a jumper for an 11-11 tie. Barcelona scored its first five shots on the night, and a jumper from Doellman put the hosts back in front. After Blazic drove for a layup, Abrines and Williams traded jumpers, and Tomic scored a put-back for a 17-15 Barcelona edge. After a timeout, big men continued to produce, with Tibor Pleiss scoring a second-chance basket for Barcelona, and Marjanovic adding another layup to Zvezda's tally. After Huertas banked in a runner at 21-19, the hosts kept Zvezda without a basket on six consecutive possessions lasting almost 4 minutes, while three-pointers from Thomas and Tomas Satoransky extended the margin to 27-19. Luka Mitrovic ended Zvezda’s drought with a late layup that made the score 27-21 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Hezonja fuels a 12-0 run
Mitrovic made a pair of free throws and Jovic drove for a layup to get Zvezda within 27-25 as the visitors held Barcelona scoreless for exactly 3 minutes of the second quarter, until Pleiss scored from close range. Charles Jenkins drove through a crowd for a layup, and after Abrines made couple foul shots, Nemanja Dangubic and Kalinic scored inside for a 31-31 tie. Hezonja and Kalinic traded triples, before Huertas buried one from downtown to restore Barcelona's lead at 37-34. Williams drove for a layup, but a put-back and a three-pointer from Hezonja helped extend the difference to 44-36. After a timeout, Hezonja came up with a steal and Abrines knocked down a triple in transition for a sudden double-digit lead, 47-36. Doellman hit a jumper before Marjanovic made a pair of free throws to snap a 12-0 Barcelona run and make it 49-38 at halftime.
Third quarter: Tomic and Huertas keep Barca comfortably ahead
Marjanovic dunked and Tomic scored from close range to start the third quarter. After Lazic drove for a layup, Tomic secured a couple of offensive boards for the hosts and fed Huertas for a runner off the glass at 53-42. Lazic made a tip-in for the visitors and Mitrovic scored a pair from the foul line to cut the deficit, but Tomic fed Huertas with another nifty bounce pass, and Abrines sank a triple to restore a double-digit advantage, 58-46. After a driving layup by Jovic, Thomas had a monster two-handed reverse dunk. Kalinic hit a layup, and after Thomas answered with a baseline dunk, Jovic put back a miss by Marjanovic at 62-52. Doellman was in a right place to scramble for a layup and Marjanovic fought for another second-chance basket. Huertas worked his way inside for a layup, but Blazic bettered it with a layup-plus-free throw to get Zvezda within 66-57. Barcelona's ball movement left Pleiss alone in the paint for an easy dunk, and after Dangubic finished a fastbreak on the other end, Pleiss hit a long jump shot for 70-59 Barcelona advantage after three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Barcelona cruises to victory
At the start of the fourth quarter, Jovic made a pair of short jumpers around a layup by Tomic. Hezonja hustled for an offensive board, followed it with a couple free throws, and then used an assist from Tomic for an easy baseline dunk and a 76-63 scoreboard. The hosts kept hustling defensively, while Abrines knocked down another three-pointer, his third, for a 16-point margin. Blazic and Tomic traded baskets from close range before a Satoransky put-back made it 83-65. With game out of reach, Williams sank a triple for Zvezda, but Lampe countered with a baseline jumper at the other end. Blazic and Lampe exchanged baskets inside, and Lampe’s free throws pushed the margin to 90-70 with under 3 minutes to play. In the final minute, a pair of baskets from Maik Zirbes cut the deficit, and after Lampe scored a layup, Marko Tejic rounded out the scoring with a three-pointer.
Friday, January 23, 2015