Barcelona wins 'El Clasico' in Madrid
In a battle between archrivals, FC Barcelona took a decisive step toward the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs by downing Real Madrid 76-81 at WiZink Center on Thursday. Barcelona improved to 21-8 in the standings and will mathematically seal a playoff spot if either Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul or Zalgiris Kaunas lose on Friday. Real dropped to 17-12, but remained in the playoffs zone. Pierre Oriola led the winners with 18 points, Nikola Mirotic added 13 while Kyle Kuric and Nick Calathes each had 11 for Barcelona. Gabriel Deck paced Real with 17 points, Edy Tavares tallied 16 points and 11 rebounds and Alberto Abalde scored 11 for Los Blancos. Barcelona led 19-24 after 10 minutes, kept a 38-41 margin at halftime and was still ahead, 54-57, at the end of the third quarter. Real led 69-68 with over 4 minutes left, but Mirotic and Oriola combined for all the points in a 3-9 run that allowed Barcelona to cruise to its 21st win in one of the critical games of the regular season.
Calathes scored twice down low and Oriola added a three-pointer in a 0-7 opening run. Jeffery Taylor and Carlos Alocen stepped up for Real but Calathes and Oriola each struck from downtown, 6-13. Alocen sank consecutive floaters, igniting an 8-0 run that Tavares capped with a layup for a 14-13 Real lead. Cory Higgins and Taylor traded layups before Kuric hit a triple for a 16-18 Barcelona edge. Deck took over with a three-point play but Mirotic found his first points and Kuric insisted from beyond the arc, giving the guests a 19-24 lead after 10 minutes. Fabien Causeur and Abalde joined the three-point shootout to bring Real within 25-26 early in the second quarter. Rolands Smits hit a three-pointer, but so did Abalde, Nico Laprovittola and Mirotic, 31-32. Alex Tyus scored down low and Abalde downed a jumper, but Kuric and Higgins kept Barcelona ahead, 35-36. Oriola stepped up with a dunk-and-foul and a layup, but Deck kept Real within 38-41 at halftime.
Mirotic dunked right after the break. Alocen matched that with a step-back jumper, Tavares added a jump hook and Deck bettered Mirotic's layup with a triple that gave Real a 46-45 lead. Alex Abrines followed a tip-in with a three-pointer but Deck brought his team within 49-50. Oriola scored again and Kuric struck from downtown, but Jaycee Carroll and Tavares answered to make it 54-55. Davies's tip-in fixed the score at 54-57 after 30 minutes. Carroll and Laprovittola each struck from beyond the arc for a 60-59 Real lead early in the fourth quarter. Tavares took over with a dunk-and-foul, but Davies scored around the basket and Calathes followed with consecutive backdoor layups for a 63-65 Barcelona lead with 6 minutes left. Tavares kept pushing the hosts with a one-handed alley-oop slam, Adam Hanga and Abalde traded triples and Usman Garuba put Real in charge, 69-68. Mirotic scored in the paint and fed Oriola for a three-pointer that caused the hosts to call timeout at 69-73. Tavares and Mirotic traded free throws, Deck split attempts and Oriola dunked for a 72-77 score with 55.9 seconds remaining. Deck kept pacing Real, but Higgins sealed the outcome from the foul line.
Pierre Oriola was Barcelona's X-factor, bringing Edy Tavares out of the paint with his outside shooting and providing his trademark character and aggressiveness. He finished the game with 18 points on 3-of-5 three-point shooting, 6 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 fouls drawn for a PIR of 15.
Usman Garuba gave Real its last lead, 69-68, as Nikola Mirotic stepped up in crunch time. He scored in the paint, then found Pierre Oriola for a three-pointer, hit free throws and had a big block. Oriola quickly dunked at the other end to put Barcelona ahead for good, 72-77, with 55.9 seconds remaining.
Turnovers made the difference in this game. Barcelona averaged a league-worst 15.0 before this game, but only picked up 9. On the other hand, Real had 16 turnovers and those extra possessions Barcelona had were critical. Barcelona made 12 of 15 free throws (80.0%) and Real struggled from the foul line (11-of-17, 64.7%).
Did you know?
With this loss, Real is 0-6 against Spanish teams in the current EuroLeague campaign. It previously lost 79-72 at Palau Blaugrana and also lost both games against TD Systems Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz and Valencia Basket. Last season, Real was 4-0 against the same teams in EuroLeague action.
Both teams return to EuroLeague action next week. Real hosts CSKA Moscow on Thursday, March 18. A day later, Barcelona visits AX Armani Exchange Milan.
Thursday, March 11, 2021