Barcelona locks up first place with win at Fenerbahce
FC Barcelona locked up first place with a hard-fought 73-82 victory at Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul. Kyle Kuric led the way with 16 points for Barcelona, which used a 5-20 run over 7 minutes spanning the third and fourth quarters to gain control of the game. Brandon Davies collected 13 points and 9 rebounds and Nikola Mirotic chipped in 12 points and 6 boards in helping Barcelona improve to 24-9 and bounce back from its overtime loss at Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv. Fenerbahce dropped an important game in the fight for home court advantage in the playoffs in falling to 20-13. Marko Guduric paced Fenerbahce with 19 points with Kyle O’Quinn adding 17 points, Nando De Colo scoring 12 points with 6 assists and Dyshawn Pierre pitching in 10 points.
Barcelona scored five points on an Alex Abrines dunk and a Mirotic triple before Fenerbahce even took a shot. Melih Mahmutoglu hit a three-pointer to get the hosts on the board and Guduric followed with two three-point plays, with O’Quinn adding four points in a 9-2 spurt as Fenerbahce went ahead 20-13. Davies stopped the drought and Kuric drained three three-pointers in a 0-13 run, before Guduric added another and-one and Fenerbahce was down 25-26 after 10 minutes. O’Quinn opened the second quarter with the first four points for a 29-26 lead, but Barcelona regained the lead 29-31 on Victor Claver’s triple. De Colo punched back with five points but Kuric, Cory Higgins, Leo Westermann and Nick Calathes all connected from deep and Barcelona went into halftime leading 42-47.
O’Quinn came out of the break with five quick points to even the game, and then Pierre buried two triples and Jarell Eddie was also on target from deep to put Fenerbahce ahead 56-51. That is when the game changed. Westermann countered from the outside before Kuric evened things at 56-56 with a fastbreak layup. Westermann added another triple as Barcelona finished the third quarter with the final six points for a 58-62 advantage. Adam Hanga started the fourth quarter with an alley-oop dunk and a three-pointer as the lead extended to 58-67. Fenerbahce got three points back but Rolands Smits scored to make it a double-digit lead 61-71 with under 8 minutes to play. Barcelona answered every Fenerbahce score, though Guduric’s three-pointer got the hosts within 72-79 with 70 seconds to play. But Davies put back a Higgins miss and converted the bonus free throw to make it 72-82 with 43 seconds remaining to decide the game for good.
Fenerbahce loses Vesely, De Colo to injuries
The defeat was even worse for Fenerbahce as the team saw its two leaders go down with injuries. Fenerbahce fans were holding their collective breath just 6 minutes into the game as Jan Vesely rolled his ankle and was helped off the court. The big man was unable to return. Nando De Colo also could not finish the contest as he went knee-to-knee with Nick Calathes with 4 minutes left and had to be assisted going to the bench.
Barcelona shuts down Fenerbahce in second half
Fenerbahce scored 25 points in the first quarter and had 42 points at the break, having made 14-of-17 two-pointers (82.3%). But Barcelona picked up its defense in the second half and conceded only 31 points in the final 20 minutes, holding the hosts to just 5-of-17 from close range (29.4%).
Barcelona absolutely crushed Fenerbahce on the glass with a 36-21 advantage. The guests grabbed 17 offensive rebounds while Fenerbahce only had 12 defensive rebounds. That led to a 28-4 advantage in second-chance points for Barcelona.
Fenerbahce will finish the regular season with another high class showdown against a Spanish giant as it welcomes Real Madrid next Thursday. Barcelona’s regular season will end at home as it faces FC Bayern Munich the following night in a showdown of playoffs-bound teams.
Friday, April 2, 2021