Barcelona downs Olympiacos in series opener
FC Barcelona took a 1-0 lead in its best-of-five playoffs series by downing Olympiacos Piraeus 73-57 at home on Wednesday. Barcelona struck first in the series and hosts Game 2 on Friday. This win was Barcelona’s ninth in a row in the Euroleague. It also marked the eighth straight home win for Barcelona against Olympiacos. Juan Carlos Navarro and Bostjan Nachbar each scored 10 to lead a balanced Barcelona attack. Maciej Lampe posted 8 points and 9 rebounds as the hosts dominated the boards 44-27. Dimitris Agravanis led all Olympiacos scorers with 9 points. Olympiacos had a strong start and a jumper by Georgios Printezis gave the Reds a 3-6 lead. Barcelona improved its defense, as Tomas Satoransky and Lampe fueled a 19-2 run highlighted by Marcelinho Huertas's incredible three-pointer at the end of the first quarter. A triple by Nachbar made it a 15-point game early in the second quarter. Brent Petway and Kostas Sloukas stepped up for Olympiacos and a dunk by Matt Lojeski brought his team within 35-26 at halftime. Navarro took over after the break, as Barcelona kept excelling on defense to extend its margin to 50-38 at the end of the third quarter. Nothing changed from that moment, as Nachbar downed consecutive three-pointers to seal the outcome, 61-42, long before the final buzzer.
First quarter: Barcelona’s defense sets the tone
Printezis got Olympiacos going with a fast break layup and a close basket by Bryant Dunston soon gave the Reds a 1-4 lead. Navarro took over with a running hook before Printezis nailed his trademark one-handed jumper off the baseline, as Olympiacos struggled to get Vassilis Spanoulis involved due to Satoransky's strong defense. Navarro hit a step-back jumper and a dunk by Ante Tomic gave Barcelona a 7-6 lead. DeShaun Thomas finished a three-chance Barcelona offense with a big slam and added a jump hook off a timeout for 5-point advantage. Olympiacos could not find the way to the basket. The Reds were held scoreless for more than six minutes, while a three-pointer by Satoransky capped an 11-0 Barcelona run for a 14-6 lead. Agravanis rescued Olympiacos with a layup, which Brad Oleson bettered with a triple. Marcelinho beat the buzzer with an unbelievable circus shot from downtown for a 20-8 Barcelona lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Olympiacos fights back, Barcelona remains ahead
Oleson kept pushing Barcelona with a wild driving layup early in the quarter. Sloukas tried to ignite the guests' comeback with free throws, which Nachbar improved on with a catch-and-shoot triple for a 25-10 Barcelona advantage. Vangelis Mantzaris struck from downtown and a layup by Brent Petway gave Olympiacos hope at 25-15. Tibor Pleiss stepped up with a dunk and matched Petway's six-meter jumper with a layup. Mantzaris and Sloukas split free throws, bringing the Reds within single digits, 29-20. Maciej Lampe shined with a put-back basket, which Dunston erased with a layup. Spanoulis split foul shots - his first point - and Satoransky set a 32-23 Barcelona margin. After Lampe made free throws, Dunston and Tomic split attempts and a fast break dunk by Matt Lojeski fixed the halftime score at 35-26.
Third quarter: Hosts remain in control
Navarro struck from downtown immediately after the break, as Barcelona held the guests scoreless for more than two minutes. A three-pointer by Satoransky boosted his team's lead to 41-26. Tremmell Darden hit a six-meter jumper and Lojeski buried one from beyond the arc to bring Olympiacos a bit closer. The Reds tried a more athletic frontcourt with Petway and Othello Hunter. Satoransky took over with a driving layup and Navarro nailed an eight-meter bomb that broke the game open at 46-31. Hunter split foul shots and Pleiss soon made it a 16-point game. Ioannis Papapetrou struck from downtown, as Barcelona started to use longer possessions now. Lampe made free throws and Agravanis bettered him with a triple to make it 50-38.
Fourth quarter: Barcelona wraps it up early
Olympiacos needed a quick comeback to return to the game and tried a more dynamic backcourt with Lafayette and Sloukas together on court. Lampe hit a jump hook, which Slouks erased with a driving layup and a step-back jumper by Papapetrou gave Olympiacos hope, 52-42, with eight minutes left. Tomic split free throws and added a layup, which caused the Reds stop the game at 55-42. Back-to-back three-pointers by Nachbar sealed the outcome at 61-42 with less than six minutes remaining. Olympiacos called another timeout and tried to play more physical. Hunter shined with an alley-oop layup and Oleson left the game with an ankle injury. Lafayette made free throws, but Mario Hezonja did better with a three-point play. Just as always, Olympiacos never gave up, but the Barcelona fans had plenty of time to celebrate a very important win.
Wednesday, April 15, 2015