Barcelona beats Madrid 85-80 in a classic
The most classic of sports rivalries more than lived up to tradition with 11 ties spread over 38 minutes before FC Barcelona held on for an 85-80 victory over visiting Real Madrid on Thursday in the Game of the Week. Barcelona's seventh consecutive win meant that both teams now have 10-3 records at the summit of Top 16 Group E, but Madrid remains in first place for having beaten won their first meeting by 24 points. Madrid can clinch first place in the next and last Top 16 game by winning at home against Zalgiris, but if not, Barcelona would move ahead with a road win against Galatasaray Liv Hospital Istanbul. It was a heavyweight championship fight all night as Rudy Fernandez outscored Barcelona 8-2 in the last 2 minutes of the first quarter to put Madrid in charge 17-25. Barcelona's bench led a second-quarter rally to regain the lead on three-pointers by Mario Hezonja before the first half ended 41-41. Hezonja got shooting help from Brad Oleson, but Sergio Rodriguez led Madrid's rally to tie 78-78 with 1:50 to play. That's when Barcelona legend Juan Carlos Navarro stepped up with go-ahead free throws and consecutive assists to ice the victory for the hosts. Barcelona's bench made the difference, outscoring Madrid's 53 to 30. Hezonja led that effort 15 points on 5-for-6 three-point shooting while Oleson had all of his 12 points on three-pointers, too. Big men Maciej Lampe matched Olson with 12 points and Tibor Pleiss added 9 for Barcelona. Fernandez topped all scorers with 20 points for Madrid while Rodriguez added 17 more and Gustavo Ayon 10.
FIRST QUARTER: Rudy rolls up lead for Madrid
DeShaun Thomas hit a second-chance triple on Barcelona's first possession to open the scoring. Bostjan Nachbar scooped in a layup to raise the difference to 5-2. Fernandez single-handedly tied it with a nifty layup and a triple from the corner. Tomas Satoransky's one-hander was matched by a back-door layup from Felipe Reyes, just as a dunk by Ante Tomic was answered by Jaycee Carroll's baseline jumper at 9-9. Navarro joined Barcelona's scoring column with his patented la bomba runner, but after a timeout, Reyes downed the game's first free throws. Thomas put back an offensive rebound before Reyes fed Ayon for a layup and another tie, 13-13. No sooner did Ayon give Madrid its first lead with another inside shot than Nachbar tied it from the baseline. Fernandez answered with his next 2 three-pointers sandwiched around a dunk from Pleiss to make it 17-21. Llull drove next, feeding Ayon for a dunk that prompted a Barcelona timeout. Still, Madrid owned the end of the quarter as Llull fed Ayon for a dunk and Fernandez shot a runner off the backboard and in to make it 17-25 after 10 minutes.
SECOND QUARTER: Hezonja leads Barcelona comeback
Lampe appeared in the corner for a triple and Alex Abrines finished a fastbreak as Barcelona reacted smartly to open the second quarter. Rodriguez stepped back for a jumper before Ayon beat the shot clock with a layup to make it 21-28. Lampe made a nice reverse next and Barcelona kept chasing as Abrines dropped a long jumper, but Rodriguez's was longer and worth a 26-34 lead. Lampe hooked in an offensive rebound and Oleson drilled Barcelona's second three-pointer to trim the difference to 31-34 and wake up the crowd. Tomic downed 1 of 2 free throws, but Fernandez returned with a slick assist to Marcus Slaughter for a dunk. Navarro answered with a long jumper at 34-36. And after a couple missed opportunities by Madrid, Hezonja made them pay with a go-ahead three-pointer from the corner. Reyes took the lead back with a second-chance basket, but Hezonja went back to the arc to make it 40-38. Andres Nocioni did the same for Madrid as the lead swung again before Pleiss finished the half with a free throw for a 41-41 tie.
THIRD QUARTER: Hezonja stays hot from downtown
Fernandez drilled a jumper and Tomic banked a shot to continue the tie after halftime. Ayon's layup was matched by a long two-pointer from Nachbar. Satoransky gave Barcelona the lead from downtown and Hezonja seconded it with his third three-pointer, forcing a Madrid timeout as Barcelona boasted its biggest lead of the game yet, 51-45. Llull took charge for the visitors, beating the shot-clock with a jumper, driving for a laup and drilling a stop-and-pop shot to draw the visitors within 52-51. But Hezonja was feeling it and blasted his fourth triple in five tries. Lampe eluded a block to make a layup and then took a second pass from Tomic for a dunk at 59-51. Carroll got 2 points back for Madrid, then after Hezonja drilled his fifth triple, Fernandez matched him and Slaughter dunked off a steal to lower the difference to 62-58. Lampe hit another long jumper, but time was left for Rodriguez to answer with a three-pointer, leaving a 64-62 scoreboard after 30 minutes.
FOURTH QUARTER: Navarro makes difference late
Two offensive rebounds by Tomic led to Oleson striking from the arc to open the fourth quarter. Oleson wasn't done, though, as his next triple extended the Barcelona lead to 70-62. Rodriguez again answered for Madrid with a driving layup then made free throw on a technical foul against Marcelinho Huertas. Llull went to the basket next to make it 70-67. When Llull connected with Rodriguez on the arc, it was suddenly tied again, 70-70. Pleiss took the lead back for Barcelona with a hook shot and bettered it with a pair of free throws, but Nocioni cut it again with a corner triple. Thomas posted up for another Barcelona basket, but Nocioni erased it with free throws at 76-75. Pleiss responded with a tip-in, but Fernandez scored a layup and Jonas Maciulis a free throw for a 78-78 tie with under 2 minutes left. Navarro was perfect at the free throw line to take back the lead, then assisted Tomic inside to make it 82-78. His next pass went outside, where Oleson buried his fourth three-pointer with 35 seconds left to put the game out of reach at 85-78 and keep a hard-fought and well-deserved victory in Barcelona.
Thursday, April 2, 2015