Barcelona tops Zenit in OT to tie series
In an overtime thriller that went down to the wire, FC Barcelona bounced back from its initial loss in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Playoffs by downing Zenit St Petersburg 81-78 in Game 2 of their best-of-five series at Palau Blaugrana on Friday. The series is now tied at 1-1 with Zenit set to host Games 3 and 4 next week. Brandon Davies led the winners with 22 points and Cory Higgins added 15 for Barcelona. Kevin Pangos led Zenit with 23 points while Will Thomas added 17 Austin Hollins 12 for the guests, who had led 13-16 after 10 minutes. Davies propelled Barca on a 12-0 second-quarter run to take a 27-21 lead that Rolands Smits and Pierre Oriola helped boost to 38-29 at halftime. Thomas and Hollins fueled Zenit's comeback and Pangos hit a baseline jumper for a 48-48 tie at the end of the third quarter. Zenit had a chance to win at the end of regulation time, but Pangos missed a jumper at the buzzer. Adam Hanga made the difference in overtime with 5 points and a couple of critical steals for Barca.
Tarik Black got Zenit going with a layup but Oriola and Nikola Mirotic soon gave Barcelona its first lead, 5-4. Thomas followed a driving basket with a step-back jumper for Zenit but Higgins found his first points and Mirotic struck from downtown as Barcelona led 10-8. Black's tip-in and Billy Baron's floater flipped the lead to Zenit before Alex Poythress scored down low and Pangos hit a runner to keep the visitors ahead 13-16 after 10 minutes. Baron struck from beyond the arc early in the second quarter and Andrey Zubkov added a jump hook for a 15-21 Zenit lead. Barcelona found a go-to guy in Davies, who had an acrobatic basket among his 7 points in a 12-0 run that he capped with a three-point play off a steal for a 27-21 lead. Thomas answered with a power layup for Zenit, but Leandro Bolmaro, Kyle Kuric and Smits boosted Barcelona's lead to 34-25. K.C. Rivers banked in an off-balance shot and Poythress added a put-back layup to keep Zenit within 38-29 at halftime.
Thomas scored again soon after the break and matched Higgins's three-point play with a bomb from downtown. Nick Calathes downed a floater for Barcelona but Hollins sank a triple and Rivers added a running jumper to give Zenit hope at 43-39. Bolmaro buried a three-pointer but Pangos and a red-hot Hollins got the guests even closer, 46-44. Baron and Pangos each hit a baseline jumper but Davies helped Barcelona get a 48-48 tie after 30 minutes. Kuric and Pangos traded three-pointers early in the fourth quarter and Davies scored off a spin move for a 53-51 Barcelona lead. Hollins joined the three-point shootout and Thomas downed a jumper but Davies gave the hosts fresh air at 59-56. Pangos banked in a floater before Davies and Kuric made it a 63-58 Barcelona lead with over 3 minutes to go. Higgins hit a critical jumper while Pangos and Black kept Zenit within 65-62. Mirotic split free throws that Thomas and Pangos answered by hitting twice each for a 66-66 tie with 40.1 seconds remaining in regulation. Mirotic and Pangos traded missed shots, sending the game to overtime.
Higgins scored first in the extra period but Hollins answered from beyond the arc and Black added a driving layup for a 68-71 Zenit lead. Calathes and Pangos split foul shots and Mirotic made it a one-point game, 71-72. Pangos hit a floater that Hanga bettered with a triple -- his first points -. for a 74-74 tie with 1:37 to go. Pangos and Higgins did not miss from the foul line before Davies put the hosts in charge, 77-76, with 38.1 seconds left. As Zenit looked to go ahead, Hanga collected a critical steal, drew a foul and made free throws for a 79-76 score with 13.3 seconds remaining. Pangos and Higgins exchanged foul shots and Hanga sealed his great overtime with another steal that assured Barcelona the victory.
Brandon Davies made the difference, playing with great intensity at both ends. He finished the game with 22 points on 5-of-8 two-point shots and 12-of-13 free throws, adding 8 rebounds, a steal and 10 fouls drawn for a PIR of 33. It is a new Barcelona record in a playoffs game, surpassing Gianluca Basile, who had a PIR of 31 in the 2008 playoffs against Maccabi Tel Aviv.
With Zenit leading 71-74 and less than 2 minutes remaining in overtime, Adam Hanga stepped up big for Barcelona. He buried a three-pointer to tie and soon collected a steal that forced Zenit to send him to the foul line. Hanga hit both attempts and denied Zenit the chance to tie the game with another steal in the closing seconds.
Barcelona took 44 free throw attempts, the biggest total in a EuroLeague playoffs game in more than a decade. Partizan Belgrade took 46 free throw attempts in Game 4 of the 2010 playoffs while downing Maccabi 76-67 and qualifying for the Final Four. Panathinaikos has the all-time record with 57 attempts from the foul line in a 102-96 overtime win against Efes Pilsen in Game 1 of the 2005 playoffs.
Did you know?
It was the 11th overtime playoffs game since the format came back to stay in 2005. Barcelona has played three of those. It had previously beat Panathinaikos 72-70 in Game 1 of the 2013 playoffs and registered an 80-92 home loss against Lokomotiv Kuban in Game 4 of the 2016 playoffs.
This best-of-five series moves now to Sibur Arena in St Petersburg, Russia for Game 3 on Wednesday, April 28 at 19:00 CET. Earlier this season, Zenit edged Barcelona 74-70 in Regular Season Round 2 with 16 points and 11 rebounds from Alex Poythress.
Saturday, April 24, 2021