Koponen's game-winner keeps Bayern alive
In an intense battle that came down to the final shot, FC Bayern Munich stayed in the fight to reach the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs by edging FC Barcelona Lassa 73-71 at Audi Dome on Thursday. Petteri Koponen became the game hero by hitting the game-winning shot at the buzzer and lifting Bayern's record to 13-15 – and one win outside the playoff zone. Barcelona, which had qualified for the playoffs on Wednesday, slipped to 16-12, but remained fifth overall. Koponen and Devin Booker led the winners with 14 points apiece, Derrick Williams added 11 and Stefan Jovic had 10 for Bayern. Ante Tomic and Thomas Heurtel paced Barcelona with 13 points apiece, Chris Singleton added 12 and Pau Ribas and Jaka Blazic each scored 10 for the visitors. Chris Singleton and Pau Ribas shined early to put Barcelona ahead, 18-19, after 10 minutes. Singleton kept pacing Barcelona and got help from Jaka Blazic to boost the visitors' lead to 32-36 at halftime. Barcelona led by 49-56 at the end of the third quarter and then again to 51-63 with 7 minutes left. A 14-0 run that Koponen capped with a triple gave Bayern a 65-63 lead. The game turned into a thriller when free throws by Heurtel and Blazic tied the game at 71-71 with 6 seconds left. Bayern had no timeouts, but Koponen brought the ball up, stopped and hit a mid-range jumper at the buzzer.
Ribas got Barcelona going with a triple and a jump hook by Tomic gave the visitors a 0-5 lead. Jovic struck from downtown and Danilo Barthel followed a layup with a triple to gave Bayern its first lead, 8-7. Singleton joined the three-point shootout, igniting a 0-7 run that Ribas capped with a fastbreak layup. Jovic scored in penetration and Booker sank a three-pointer, but Singleton and Heurtel kept Barcelona in charge, 14-19. A jumper by Booker and a layup off a steal by Maodo Lo brought Bayern within 18-19 after 10 minutes. A layup by Williams put Bayern ahead 20-19 early in the second quarter. Heurtel struck twice from beyond the arc and fed Pierre Oriola for a three-point play, prompting the hosts to call timeout at 21-28. Bayern found answers on offense through Barthel and Vladimir Lucic, who fueled a 7-0 run that tied it at 28-28. Tomic rescued Barcelona with 4 quick points, Blazic scored in penetration and a fastbreak layup by Singleton boosted Barcelona's lead to 32-36 at halftime. Kevin Pangos downed a three-pointer soon after the break and a dunk by Tomic gave the visitors a 32-41 margin. Singleton capped an 0-11 run with a driving layup, as Williams stepped up with a big dunk. Booker and Koponen combined for all the points in an 8-0 run, which brought Bayern within 42-45. Ribas and Victor Claver each hit one from beyond the arc, allowing Barcelona to restore a double-digit lead, 42-52. Koponen and Williams brought Bayern a bit closer, 49-56, after 30 minutes. Blazic and Singleton took over early in the fourth quarter and a three-pointer by Heurtel boosted the lead to 51-63 with 7 minutes left. Jovic answered from downtown and a dunk by Leon Radosevic gave Bayern hope at 56-63. Koponen sank a jumper and Williams dunked to make it a 1-point game. Koponen capped a 14-0 run with a three-pointer that completed the hosts' comeback at 65-63 with 3 minutes left. Claver took over with back-to-back layups and a close basket by Booker tied it to 67-67 with 1:19 remaining. Heurtel missed a floater and a three-pointer by Lucic restored a 70-67 Bayern edge with 10.6 seconds to go. Heurtel hit free throws, Nihad Dedovic split attempts and Blazic tied the game from the foul line, 71-71. Koponen found time to race downcourt and bury the game-winning jumper at the buzzer.
Koponen not only hit the game-winning shot, but stepped up when Bayern needed him most, down by 12 points in the fourth quarter. He finished the game with 14 points, all in the final 15 minutes, on 3-of-4 two-point shooting, 2-of-3 from downtown and 2-of-2 free throws. He added 3 rebounds and an assist for a performance index rating of 18.
Barcelona led 51-63 and seemed to have full control of the game, but Bayern improved its defense and found a go-to guy in Jovic, who joined forces with Williams and Koponen in a 14-0 run that brought the hosts back to the game, 65-63. Bayern ended up winning it at the buzzer, but wouldn't have reached that point without those 4 minutes of total inspiration.
Bayern pulled down 11 offensive rebounds and limited Barcelona to just 5. Both teams had the same number of turnovers (11) and similar shooting percentages, but those 6 extra possessions had a lot of impact on the final outcome.
Did you notice?
It was Bayern's first-ever win against Barcelona after three consecutive losses - two of them in the 2014-15 season and another one in October, 83-73.
Both teams return to EuroLeague action next week. Barcelona hosts Buducnost VOLI Podgorica on Thursday. A day later, Bayern visits Darussafaka Tekfen Istanbul.
Thursday, March 21, 2019