Barcelona downs Maccabi to move into second place
FC Barcelona claimed sole possession of second place in Group E by beating reigning champion Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv 89-71 at Palau Blaugrana on Thursday. Barcelona improved to 7-3, with Maccabi right behind at 6-4. The hosts also claimed the head-to-head tiebreak advantage against Maccabi. Ante Tomic led the winners with 16 points on a perfect shooting night – 4 of 4 two-point shots and 8 of 8 free throws – plus 12 rebounds. Justin Doellman added 13 points, while DeShaun Thomas, Juan Carlos Navarro and Tomas Satoransky each scored 11 for Barcelona. Joe Alexander led Maccabi with 16 points. Sofoklis Schortsanitis added 15 and Brian Randle had 10 for the guests. Tomic led Barcelona early and a three-pointer by Navarro gave his team a 16-8 lead. Bostjan Nachbar and Mario Hezonja helped the hosts make it a double-digit game, 26-16, after 10 minutes. Schortsanitis and Devin Smith tried to change things for Maccabi, but Satoransky and Thomas gave Barcelona a 47-34 margin at halftime. Nothing changed after the break, as Barcelona kept a 64-53 margin after three quarters and kept a double-digit lead for the better part of the fourth quarter to cruise to a well-deserved win.
First quarter: Frontcourt puts Barcelona way ahead
Tomic got Barcelona going with a jump hook and erased Randle's baseline jumper with a close basket for a 4-2 lead. Doellman struck from downtown before Smith hit a jumper – his 1,000th and 1,001st Euroleague career points with Maccabi. A power basket by Tomic gave the hosts a 9-4 lead. Schortsanitis scored twice around the basket, but an off-balance basket by Thomas and a dunk by Doellman boosted the hosts' lead to 13-8. Navarro struck from downtown, but Schortsanitis took over with a dunk-and-foul. Nachbar also hit one from beyond the arc for a 19-11 Barcelona advantage. Marcelinho Huertas swished his trademark running jumper, however Alexander followed a four-meter shot with a three-pointer off the dribble to bring the champs within 5. Nachbar scored in penetration and Mario Hezonja buried a catch-and-shoot triple for a 26-16 Barcelona lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Barcelona keeps rolling
Schortsanitis hit a jump hook early in the quarter and a good ball circulation allowed MarQuez Haynes to fire in a corner triple to make it 27-21. Nate Linhart shined with a reverse layup, but Hezonja sank a one-handed floater and a backdoor layup by Doellman set a 31-23 Barcelona margin. Jeremy Pargo stepped up with a driving layup, however Tibor Pleiss scored around the basket and a corner three-pointer by Tomas Satoransky boosted the hosts' lead to 36-25. After Alexander answered from downtown, Satoransky took over with a driving basket and a triple by Thomas gave the hosts a 41-28 advantage. Smith sank a jump hook, but he didn't find much help around and Maccabi entered the foul penalty after that. Brad Oleson and Doellman made free throws, but so did Smith. Randle shined with a fast break layup, but a jump hook by Maciej Lampe fixed the halftime score at 47-34.
Third quarter: Sofo keeps Maccabi alive
Pargo scored down low immediately after the break and Randle added a fast break slam to bring Maccabi within 47-38. Pargo made free throws to cap a 0-6 Maccabi spurt. Tomic stepped up to give Barcelona a 49-40 edge. Alex Tyus ignited a good number of Maccabi fans with a two-handed slam. Navarro hit free throws and a three-point play by Doellman – on Maccabi's 4th team foul – gave the hosts a 53-42 margin. Tomic added hit foul shots before Alexander nailed a turnaround jumper. A three-pointer by Navarro made it a 15-point game. Satoransky did not miss from the foul line, but Schortsanitis answered with a layup. Navarro gave Barcelona a 62-46 margin. Alexander nailed a corner triple and Schortsanitis followed free throws with a huge dunk that gave the guests hope at 64-53.
Fourth quarter: Tomic and co. finish strong
Huertas and Alexander exchanged three-pointers early in the quarter. Hezonja beat the shot clock with a jumper, but Linhart immediately answered with a fast break layup. Oleson brought the crowd to its feet with a three-pointer that gave Barcelona a 72-58 cushion with eight minutes left. Randle shined with a tip-in and a backdoor layup to bring Maccabi within 10. Tomic hit free throws, but a three-pointer by Smith brought Maccabi within single digits, 74-65. Satoransky beat the shot clock buzzer with a driving layup and more foul shots by Tomic gave Barcelona some fresh air at 78-66. Maccabi struggled to score right when it mattered most and a jumper by Thomas made it a 14-point game with three minutes left. Free throws by Doellman sealed the outcome, 82-66, as even though Maccabi kept trying, the Barcelona fans were already celebrating a very important home win.
Thursday, March 12, 2015