Olympiacos holds off Barcelona to take control of series
In a thrilling showdown Tuesday at Peace and Friendship Stadium that went down to the wire, Olympiacos Piraeus took a 2-1 lead in its best-of-five playoffs series by edging FC Barcelona 73-71. Olympiacos hosts Game 4 on Thursday with the chance to seal its ticket to the 2015 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four; Barcelona needs to win Game 4 to take the series back to Palau Blaugrana. Georgios Printezis paced the winners with 19 points and Vassilis Spanoulis added 15 and 8 assists for Olympiacos. Juan Carlos Navarro led Barcelona with 14 points. Tomas Satoransky added 12, while Justin Doellman and Maciej Lampe each had 10 for the guests. Barcelona had a strong start, but a three-point play by Bryant Dunston gave Olympiacos its first lead, 13-10. Spanoulis and Matt Lojeski allowed Olympiacos to keep a 26-23 margin after 10 minutes. Alex Abrines shined with back-to-back baskets to tie the game at 36-36. Spanoulis and Brent Petway fueled a 10-0 run that gave Olympiacos a double-digit lead, 46-36, right after the break. Barcelona found a go-to guy in Lampe, who had 6 points in a 0-10 run that gave the guests a 59-60 edge after three quarters. Barcelona was held scoreless for more than five minutes while Othello Hunter and Printezis boosted their team's lead to 70-62 with less than three minutes remaining. Navarro brought Barcelona within 70-69 and got a chance to win the game, but Abrines missed from downtown at the buzzer.
First quarter: Spanoulis puts Reds ahead
Satoransky got Barcelona going with a three-pointer. Bryant Dunston stepped up with a power basket, but Ante Tomic hit a one-handed floater. A driving layup by Spanoulis kept Olympiacos within 4-5. Satoransky took over with another bomb from downtown before Tremmell Darden nailed a mid-range jumper and Spanoulis fed Georgios Printezis with his trademark one-handed baseline jumper. DeShaun Thomas scored around the basket, but free throws by Vangelis Mantzaris and a layup-plus-foul by Dunston gave the Reds their first lead, 13-10. Lampe banked in a five-meter jumper and erased Matt Lojeski's fast break with another mid-range shot. A layup by Tomic put Barcelona back ahead, 15-16. Mario Hezonja shined with a driving layup that Spanoulis bettered with a step-back triple. Dimitris Agravanis ignited the crowd with a three-point play and Spanoulis hit free throws. Brad Oleson and Lojeski traded three-pointers, but Doellman kept Barcelona within 26-23 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Olympiacos bounces back
Tibor Pleiss hit a running shot early in the quarter, as Olympiacos tried a different backcourt with Oliver Lafayette and Kostas Sloukas together on court. Sloukas found Printezis for a backdoor layup and Othello Hunter scored down low to make it a 5-point game. Pleiss hit his trademark jump hook off the glass, which Printezis improved upon with a triple. Navarro came off a screen to answer from downtown. A backdoor layup by Satoransky caused Olympiacos to call timeout at 33-32. The hosts kept struggling to score until Petway stepped up with a three-pointer. Abrines downed a six-meter jumper and followed that with a big basket in penetration to tie the game at 36-36. Spanoulis split foul shots and a driving layup by Sloukas gave Olympiacos a bit of fresh air. Spanoulis made free throws on Tomic's third foul and another triple by Petway boosted the hosts' lead to 44-36 at halftime.
Third quarter: Lampe rescues Barcelona
Both teams struggled to score after the break until Printezis hit a baseline jumper. Doellman stepped up with a catch-and-shoot three-pointer, as the game turned into a physical battle. Lafayette shined with a reverse layup, but Satoransky banked in a close shot and Doellman added a three-point play to keep Barcelona within 48-44. After Oleson hit a six-meter jumper, Dunston and Doellman exchanged free throws. An unbelievable off-balance triple by Spanoulis gave Olympiacos a 53-48 margin. Olympiacos entered the foul penalty, however, forcing Coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos to change his defensive strategy. Navarro made free throws and Dunston split attempts. A three-pointer by Mantzaris gave the Reds a 57-50 margin. Tomic hit 2-of-4 foul shots and Lampe stepped up for Barcelona with 6 quick points, including a put-back basket that gave Barcelona a 57-58 lead. Navarro made free throws and a put-back slam by Printezis kept Olympiacos within 59-60.
Fourth quarter: Down to the last shot!
Hunter hustled to get an offensive board and scored down low early in the quarter, as Barcelona committed 3 team fouls in two minutes. Printezis buried a big three-pointer to boost the hosts' lead to 4. Mantzaris found Hunter for a huge alley-oop slam that ignited the Olympiacos faithful at 66-60. Barcelona had been scoreless for seven minutes before a free throw by Tomic made it 66-61 with over three minutes remaining. Printezis made free throws and soon added an alley-oop slam that seemed to seal the outcome. Satoransky and Navarro made free throws to get Barcelona within 4. Spanoulis missed free throws and a layup-plus-foul by Navarro made it 70-69. Oleson missed twice from downtown and free throws by Spanoulis gave Olympiacos a 72-69 margin. The Reds fouled Navarro with 8.3 seconds left and he hit both attempts. Printezis split attempts, but Abrines missed from downtown at the buzzer.
Tuesday, April 21, 2015