Tomic's career night lifts Barcelona to eighth straight win
In an All-Spanish League showdown in Group E, FC Barcelona remained undefeated in the Top 16 by topping Laboral Kutxa Vitoria 68-80 on the road. Barcelona improved to 7-0, while Vitoria dropped to 1-6. Barcelona extended its own record of consecutive Top 16 victories to 19. Ante Tomic paced the winners with Euroleague career highs of 24 points and performance index rating of 36. He made 8 of 9 two-point shots and grabbed 9 rebounds. Marcelinho Huertas added 16 points, Juan Carlos Navarro scored 15 and Erazem Lorbek 12 for Barcelona. Fernando San Emeterio led Vitoria with a season-high 22 points and Tibor Pleiss added 15 and 10 rebounds for the hosts. Tomic already reached double digits in scoring in the first quarter. He got plenty of help from Marcelinho Huertas to give Barcelona a double-digit lead, 17-27, after 10 minutes. Vitoria improved its defense and found a go-to guy in San Emeterio, whose three-pointer tied it at 29-29. An unstoppable Tomic put Barcelona back ahead, 31-33, at halftime. Lorbek took over after the break and Navarro helped him put Barcelona ahead 49-59 after 30 minutes. Nothing changed from that moment, as Navarro and an unstoppable Tomic boosted the guests' margin to 57-71 and Barcelona never looked back.
First quarter: Tomic, Huertas put Barcelona ahead
Andres Nocioni got Vitoria going with a four-meter baseline jumper that Huertas bettered with a three-pointer for a 2-3 Barcelona lead. After Pleiss dunked, Lorbek hit a jump hook, but a driving layup by San Emeterio gave the hosts a 6-5 edge. Tomic banked in a jump hook and added free throws on Pleiss's second foul. San Emeterio scored down low before a layup by Kostas Papanikolaou restored an 8-11 Barcelona lead. Tomic insisted from the foul line. Ilimane Diop scored around the basket, but Huertas hit his trademark mid-range shot for a 10-15 Barcelona margin. After San Emeterio stepped up with a layup-plus-foul off a timeout, Navarro and Nocioni traded driving baskets. A huge dunk by Joey Dorsey kept Barcelona ahead, 15-19. Huertas made free throws and a six-meter jumper by Bostjan Nachbar boosted the guests' lead to 8. Diop made free throws, but an unstoppable Tomic followed a jumper with a layup for a double-digit Barcelona lead, 17-27, after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: San Emeterio leads Vitoria back
Adam Hanga split free throws early in the quarter and soon struck from downtown to give Vitoria hope at 21-27. Barcelona was held scoreless for almost three minutes until Lorbek stepped up with a layup. Walter Hodge did better with a three-point play and a close basket by Pleiss caused Barcelona Coach Xavi Pascual to call timeout at 26-29. The guests struggled to score with Tomic on the bench and tried to improve their offense with Huertas, Navarro and Brad Oleson together on court. Vitoria kept powering the offensive glass and a corner three-pointer by San Emeterio tied the game at 29-29 after a 12-2 run. Tomic returned to the floor and delivered with a layup and a big block on Pleiss. Vitoria improved its defense with Nocioni and Diop around the baskets. Meanwhile, a red-hot San Emeterio made free throws that Tomic erased with a layup that put Barcelona back ahead, 31-33, at halftime.
Third quarter: Lorbek takes charge for Barca
Lorbek took over with a wild driving layup immediately after the break. Vitoria could not find a way to the basket and a jumper by Lorbek made it a 6-point game. Fabien Causeur stepped up with an acrobatic basket that the ever-present Tomic matched with a jump hook. Oleson shined with a fast break layup and Lorbek scored in the low post to restore a double-digit Barcelona lead, 33-43. Thomas Heurtel sank a jumper and San Emeterio added a big basket, but a three-pointer by Huertas kept the guests way ahead, 37-46. Pleiss sank a hook shot, but Tomic fed Lorbek for an easy layup. Pleiss insisted with free throws, but Navarro provided a highlight with a driving layup and fed Huertas for a corner triple and a 41-53 Barcelona margin. Navarro nailed a jumper and erased San Emeterio's backdoor layup with free throws. Pleiss followed a three-point play with a put-back basket and a free throw by Leo Mainoldi kept Vitoria within 49-59.
Fourth quarter: Barcelona cruises to keep record intact
San Emeterio scored in penetration early in the fourth quarter. Tomic split free throws and soon added another basket to keep Barcelona out of trouble, 51-62. Hanga downed a five-meter jumper, but an outstanding Tomic matched it with a tip-in in traffic. Hanga kept pushing Vitoria with a one-handed floater and free throws by San Emeterio made it a 57-64. Barcelona could not find open shots, but Oleson rescued the guests with a big three-pointer. Navarro buried a catch-and-shoot triple coming off a screen that sealed the outcome at 57-71, with over four minutes left. Hanga and Nocioni made free throws and a jump hook by Pleiss brought Vitoria a bit closer, 62-71. Navarro shined with a driving layup, but San Emeterio scored again. By the time Huertas nailed a seven-meter bomb, everything was said and done.
Thursday, February 20, 2014