Heurtel paces Barcelona to fifth straight win
In a key battle in the race to reach the playoffs, FC Barcelona Lassa registered its fifth consecutive win by downing Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 79-68 at Palau Blaugrana on Friday. Barcelona improved to 11-7 and is not tied on victories for fifth place in the standings with Olympiacos. Panathinaikos dropped to 8-10 and is tied for eighth place with AX Armani Exchange Olimpia Milan and KIROLBET Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz. Thomas Heurtel led the winners with 23 points and Kevin Seraphin added 14. Ioannis Papapetrou led Panathinaikos with 17 points. Barcelona was up by 37-36 at halftime, extended the lead to 56-52 after 30 minutes and had to wait until the final 2 minutes to celebrate a well-deserved win.
Nick Calathes and James Gist each struck from downtown for an early 0-6 Panathinaikos lead. Ante Tomic hit a jump hook, igniting a 10-0 run in which Heurtel had all the remaining points for Barcelona. Stephane Lasme hit a jumper and Matt Lojeski added a fastbreak layup but free throws by Heurtel and Kevin Pangos restored a 13-10 Barcelona advantage. Nikos Pappas struck from downtown but Seraphin followed a reverse layup with foul shots for a 17-13 score after 10 minutes. Seraphin scored again and a fastbreak layup by Pierre Oriola made it 21-14. Adam Hanga scored in penetration and a mid-range jumper by Kyle Kuric kept Barcelona fully in charge, 25-17. Papapetrou and Dinos Mitoglou tried to change things for the guests but Kuric buried a triple and Heurtel downed a jumper for a 30-22 Barcelona lead. Papapetrou followed an up-and-under layup with a triple to bring Panathinaikos within 32-29. Tomic matched Papapetrou's dunk with a jump hook and a three-point play by Gist tied it at 34-34. A three-point play by Victor Claver and a put-back by Dinos Mitoglou fixed the halftime score at 37-36. A layup by Calathes and a dunk by Papapetrou gave the guests a 37-40 edge soon after the break. Claver's reverse slam and Heurtel's floater allowed a three-pointer by Pau Ribas to retake the lead for Barcelona at 44-42. Soon, Claver and Chris Singleton each struck from downtown and a three-point play by Seraphin made it a double-digit game, 53-42. Lasme dunked and Papapetrou added a triple to bring the guests back to life while Mitoglou and Lukas Lekavicius made it even closer, 56-52, after 30 minutes. A second-chance layup by Gist and a floater by Lekavicius tied the game, 56-56, early in the fourth quarter. Heurtel and Pappas traded baskets and a put-back layup by Seraphin restored a 60-58 Barcelona edge. DeShaun Thomas buried a triple but Oriola and Hanga gave their team a 66-61 lead with under 6 minutes left. Kuric bettered Georgios Papagiannis's dunk with a three-pointer, Papapetrou and Tomic exchanged layups and Heurtel buried a three-pointers to seal the outcome, 75-65, in the next-to-last minute.
Once again, Heurtel was the heart and soul of his team, finishing the game with 23 points on 6-of-8 two-point, 2-of-4 three-point and 5-of-5 free-throw shooting. He added 2 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 fouls drawn for a PIR of 22.
Panathinaikos kept its chances alive, 69-65, with under 4 minutes left, but Tomic scored around the basket, then Heurtel and Hanga each struck from downtown in a 9-2 run that allowed Barcelona to seal the outcome and celebrate a truly important win.
Barcelona led 15-9 in rebounds at halftime and ended up outrebounding Panathinaikos by 39-19 in this game. That is, Barcelona outrebounded the Greens by 24-10 in the second half, which allowed the hosts to dominate the game.
Did you notice?
Barcelona won the tie-break advantage if both teams finish the regular season with the same record. Panathinaikos had beaten Barcelona 76-70 on November 21. Barcelona not only won, but managed to do it by more than 6 points.
In Round 19, Barcelona visits Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv on Thursday. A day later, Panathinaikos faces Zalgiris Kaunas on the road, too.
Friday, January 11, 2019