Barcelona improves to 10-0 on Navarro’s special night
FC Barcelona locked up home-court advantage for the Turkish Airlines Euroleague playoffs by downing two-time defending champions Olympiacos Piraeus 70-58 at Palau Blaugrana in Top 16 Group E on Friday. Barcelona improved to 10-0, registered its 22nd consecutive Top 16 win and its 30th straight Top 16 home triumph - both all-time Euroleague records. Olympiacos dropped to 4-7 and is in a four-game losing streak. It was a special night for Juan Carlos Navarro, who became the all-time Euroleague leader in games played (253, surpassing Theo Papaloukas, who attended the game) and minutes played (6,564, beating J.R. Holden). Brad Oleson paced the winners with 15 points off the bench, Ante Tomic tallied 14 points and 11 rebounds and Erazem Lorbek finished with 13 points for the winners. Bryant Dunston paced the Reds with 18 points and Brent Petway scored 17. In a small ceremony before the game. Euroleague Basketball Competitions Director Diego Guillen, FC Barcelona President Josep Maria Bartomeu and Euroleague Basketball legend Theodoros Papaloukas – the previous holder of the record with his 252 games played – honored Navarro by awarding him several gifts to a standing ovation of his fans on the stands. Aside from the gifts, a video was played on the Balugrana screens with several of Navarro's colleagues and friends congratulating him on his achievement. Barcelona trailed 38-39 early in the second half but Lorbek and Oleson led the hosts to a 55-44 advantage through three quarters. Barca boosted its margin to 65-49 and never looked back.
First quarter: Tomic, Huertas put Barcelona ahead
Dunston got Olympiacos going with a jump hook that Tomic erased at the other end. Erazem Lorbek took over with a big basket in the low post. Dunston provided a highlight with a one-handed slam before a running jumper by Marcelinho Huertas put Barcelona back ahead, 6-4. Stratos Perperoglou fed Giorgi Shermadini for an easy layup, as Barcelona tried to get Tomic involved without much success. Dunston kept pushing Olympiacos with a baseline jumper, but Tomic made free throws and collected a steal that allowed Huertas to put the hosts back ahead, 10-8. Olympiacos was forced to use long possessions without good shot selection. Tomic scored down low and a third-chance tip-in by Shermadini kept the Reds within 12-10. Huertas stepped up with a three-point play that Brent Petway matched with a triple. Jacob Pullen struck from downtown to give Barcelona an 18-13 lead after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Defense keeps the hosts in charge
Mardy Collins scored in penetration early in the second quarter and free throws by Petway brought Olympiacos as close as 18-17. Barcelona kept missing shots from long distance and a jumper by Matt Lojeski put the Reds back ahead, 18-19, after a 0-6 run. Brad Oleson tried to change things with a six-meter jumper and Navarro found his first points for a 22-19 Barcelona edge. Navarro added a layup in transition and a free throw by Lorbek gave Barcelona fresh air at 25-19. Kostas Sloukas hit a stop-and-pop jumper, but Huertas found Tomic for a two-handed dunk. Barcelona tried to play more aggressive once Olympiacos entered the foul penalty. Lorbek ignited the crowd with a corner three-pointer that capped a 12-2 run, 30-21. Dunston followed an alley-oop slam with a huge dunk in traffic, but Navarro downed a three-pointer for a 33-25 Barcelona lead. Another dunk by Dunston fixed the halftime score at 33-27.
Third quarter: Lorbek, Oleson help Barca roll
Dunston sank free throws right after the break and a block by Petway kept the Reds' defensive momentum going. Petway buried a three-pointer that brought Olympiacos within 33-32, after a 0-7 run. Tomic scored down, low but Lojeski followed a triple with a one-handed floater to complete the guests' comeback, 35-37, midway through the third quarter. Lorbek rescued Barcelona with a catch-and-shoot three-pointer from the left wing. After Shermadini made free throws, Tomic scored down low and a 24-second turnover caused Olympiacos to call timeout at 40-39. Tomic sank a turnaround jumper and foul shots by Lorbek boosted Barcelona's lead to 44-39. Petway shocked the crowd with a wild, off-balance three-pointer. Oleson did better with back-to-back shots from downtown that made it an 8-point game. Oleson, Petway and Alex Abrines made free throws and a buzzer-beating triple by Pullen gave Barcelona a double-digit lead, 55-44.
Fourth quarter: Barcelona adds 10th win
Pullen took over with a wild driving layup early in the fourth quarter. Dunston made free throws, as Barcelona tried to use longer possessions to run the game clock down. Olympiacos kept powering the offensive glass, but shots did not fall in. Barcelona also struggled to score, however, and a free throw by Vangelis Mantzaris gave the Reds hope, 57-47, with over six minutes to go. Tomic stepped up with a tip-in, but Sloukas hit a close shot. A pair of three-pointer by Oleson boosted Barcelona's lead to 65-49 with four minutes remaining. Dunston made free throws, but didn't find much help around. By the time Abrines took over with an alley-oop slam, everything was said and done. Barcelona grabbed home-court advantage for the playoffs on a special night for its homegrown legend.
Friday, March 14, 2014