FC Barcelona Regal after sweating out a 66-63 win over visiting Unics Kazan
Barcelona held off Unics Kazan down the stretch to win 66-63 and take a 2-0 lead in their Turkish Airlines Euroleague Playoffs series. The teams head to Russia next week and Barca can clinch a spot in the 2012 Final Four with a win. The Euroleague’s all-time leading scorer, Juan Carlos Navarro, paced Barcelona with 18 points. Erazem Lorbek netted 14 and Pete Mickeal 12. Nathan Jawai carried Unics with 21 points and 10 rebounds and Bostjan Nachbar scored 16. Lorbek had 5 points in an early 9-0 run that gave Barcelona an 11-2 margin. Unics managed to get within 17-13 after 10 minutes and an outstanding Nachbar helped the guests to get the lead, 17-21. Navarro and Lorbek stepped up late in the first half to put Barcelona back ahead, 33-30, at the break. Navarro and Mickeal took over after the break to make it 48-39. Unics rallied and a put-back layup by Jawai gave his team a 53-54 edge with under eight minutes to go. The game remained tight the rest of the way until the game changing sequence saw Kosta Perovic collected a key steal, drew a foul at the other end and calmly make free throws for a 63-61 Barcelona edge with 48.6 seconds left.
Marcelinho Huertas got Barcelona going with a layup off a steal that Jawai matched with a close basket. Unics picked up two early turnovers, as the hosts were all over the place in defense. Meanwhile, Boni Ndong shined with a put-back jump hook and Navarro buried a six-meter jumper for a 6-2 lead. Lorbek made free throws and followed that with a three-pointer that forced Coach Evgeny Pashutin to call timeout at 11-2, after a 9-0 run. Jawai kept pacing Unics with a dunk and a baseline jumper by Nachbar brought the guests a bit closer, 11-6. Mickeal found space for an uncontested layup that Lynn Greer erased with a driving basket, as Barcelona brought Chuck Eidson and Victor Sada in to raise its defensive intensity. Mickeal sank foul shots, but Nachbar stepped up with a five-meter jumper. Kelly McCarty nailed a mid-range shot off the dribble. More free throws by Mickeal gave Barcelona a 17-13 edge at the end of a very intense first quarter.
Unics kept trying to use long possessions and Barcelona had started to miss open jumpers without Navarro and Lorbek on the floor. Greer nailed a long two-pointer and a triple by Vladimir Veremeenko completed the guests' comeback, 17-18. Barcelona had been scoreless for more than three minutes when it brought Huertas and Navarro back in to improve their ball circulation. However Nachbar capped a 0-9 run with a triple, which forced the hosts to call timeout at 17-21. Navarro hit his trademark 'bomba' and Lorbek banked in a mid-range shot to keep Barcelona within 21-23. Unics entered the foul bonus midway through the second quarter, which allowied Barcelona to attack the basket and find easy points. Navarro and Lorbek hit free throws to make the guests stop the game at 26-23. Nachbar hit a turnaround jumper and traded triples with Navarro for a 29-28 score. Lorbek scored in the low post, but a red-hot Nachbar nailed another long jumper. Free throws by Ndong fixed the halftime score at 33-30.
Jawai scored in the paint immediately after the break but a jumper by Lorbek and free throws by Mickeal boosted the hosts' lead to 37-32. Terrell Lyday and Ndong exchanged mid-range shots and another close basket by Jawai kept Unics within 39-36. Navarro sent the crowd to their feet with a three-pointer but Petr Samoylenko quickly answered from downtown. Mickeal hit foul shots and a jumper by Ndong gave Barcelona some fresh air, 46-39. The hosts were all over the place in defense and an acrobatic reverse layup by Navarro made Unics call timeout at 48-39. Jawai stepped up with a layup, as Unics improved its defense, playing with much more aggressivity. Kosta Perovic stepped up with a close jumper but an unstoppable Jawai erased it with a jump hook and free throws by Veremeenko and Greer brought Unics closer, 50-46. Lorbek split foul shots and Nachbar made it a three-point game, 51-48, after 30 minutes.
Jawai scored down low off a wild spin move, but Joe Ingles stepped up with a big basket in transition. McCarty nailed an off-balance shot and a put-back layup by Jawai completed the guests' comeback, 53-54, with over seven minutes to go. C.J. Wallace buried a critical three-pointer and Navarro also struck from downtown to set the crowd on fire, 59-54. Greer tried to change things with a driving layup, but Wallace kept pacing Barcelona with a layup. Jawai briefly silenced the crowd with a dunk to get Unics within 61-58 with 3 minutes to go. Unics kept running its offense through Jawai, who split foul shots. Barcelona struggled to score right when it mattered most and a power layup by Jawai tied the game, 61-61. Huertas missed around the basket but Perovic collected a key steal, drew a foul at the other end and calmly made free throws for a 63-61 Barcelona edge with 48.6 seconds left. Veremeenko picked up a key turnover but Huertas split foul shots for a 64-61 score with 8.2 seconds to go. Domercant made it a 1-point game from the line, Mickeal matched him and then Domercant’s desperation heave missed, which left Barcelona with the win and series lead.
Thursday, March 22, 2012