Panathinaikos edges Barcelona, takes a 2-1 lead in its playoffs series
The most dramatic Turkish Airlines Euroleague playoff series once again lived up to the expectations in Game 3, as Panathinaikos Athens edged FC Barcelona Regal 65-63 in front of a packed O.A.K.A on Tuesday night. Dimitris Diamantidis hit two triples in the final 4 minutes to be once again the hero for Panathinaikos, which now holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series and is one win away from sealing its fourth Final Four berth in five years. Panathinaikos hosts Game 4 in the Greek capital on Thursday night, while a potential Game 5 would be played in Barcelona. The Greens made a 21-6 run bridging the first and second quarters to build a 29-14 lead, but Sarunas Jasikevicius and Juan Carlos Navarro led Barcelona back into the game. A 3-13 run at the start of the third quarter gave the visitors 41-42 lead, and the game was headed for another thrilling ending as teams traded leads. However, after Barcelona went up 59-63, the hosts finished the game with a 6-0 run, that included a triple off the glass from Dimitris Diamantidis that put Panathinaikos up for good. Diamantidis finished with 12 points, while Michael Bramos scored 11 of his 14 points in the first half. Stephane Lasme had 11 points plus 8 rebounds, while James Gist scored 9. For Barcelona, which lost its second straight game after winning 13 in a row, Navarro finished with 17, Jasikevicius netted 13 while Ante Tomic had 12 points ans 9 rebounds but missed a couple of crucial free throws in the final minute.
First quarter: a 12-2 run puts the Greens in front
C.J. Wallace, Marcelinho Huertas and Nate Jawai got their first playoff start, but it was Barca's usual suspect, Navarro, who opened the game with a three-pointer. Jonas Maciulis hit a long jumper and James Gist nailed a triple to get the hosts going, but Navarro hit another triple for 5-6. After Sofoklis Schortsanitis and Erazem Lorbek traded buckets in the paint, Maciulis hit a triple and Diamantidis scored a layup making it 13-8. Tomic briefly snapped the run with a basket inside, but Panathinaikos finished the quarter on a 7-0 run in which Diamantidis hit a jump shot and Lasme made a last-second put-back over Tomic for 20-10 after the first quarter.
Second quarter: margin reaches 15 points before Barcelona rallies
Jasikevicius nailed a long jumper to start the second quarter, but on the other end, Diamantidis drove through the crowd for a tough layup. After a Jawai tip-in, Roko Ukic sunk a triple and Diamantidis threw a half-court pass for Lasme’s reverse alley-oop slam and 29-14. After a timeout, Barcelona went three possessions in a row to Tomic and Lorbek who cut it to 31-20. The Greens kept the lead in the double figures with Bramos driving the baseline for a floater, but Jasikevicius answered with a baseline jumper from the right side and a triple from the left corner as the visitors got within 33-27. Bramos snapped a 2-11 run, sinking a shot from way downtown, and added a driving floater to the tally to help Panathinaikos to take a 38-29 halftime lead.
Third quarter: Saras, Tomic and Navarro help Barcelona catch up
Wallace hit a baseline jumper to open the third quarter, but Ukic collected a couple of steals and made a fastbreak layup, scoring the first second-half points for Panathinaikos. However, the visitors cut it to 40-36 after a three-pointer from Jasikevicius and a ‘Bomba’ from Navarro. With Barcelona playing zone defense, Kostas Tsartsaris found enough room in the crowded paint for a layup, but Barcelona scored on its next three possessions - first Navarro nailed his third triple, then Abrines made a floater off the glass, and finally Tomic scored inside – to take a 41-42 advantage. After that, teams proceeded to trade leads, with Tsartsaris and Lasme scoring inside for the Greens, while ‘La Bomba’ and Tomic increased the visitors’ tally. A triple from Bramos made it 49-47, but Tomic continued dominating the paint and also assisted Abrines from the high post, as Barcelona took 50-51 lead into the final quarter.
Fourth quarter: Diamantidis comes through once again
Tomic started the fourth quarter with a hook shot, staying perfect - 6-of-6 - from the floor, and 2 free throws from Lorbek made it 50-55. Panathinaikos remained in the game thanks to a couple of close-range buckets from James Gist, and after the hosts put big men Tomic and Jawai into foul trouble midway through the final quarter, Diamantidis sunk a wide-open three for 59-57. But the drama was just starting. After a timeout, Wallace and Jasikevicius sunk back-to-back three-pointers that put Barcelona back in front, 59-63, but Panathinaikos came up with a huge dunk from Lasme before Diamantidis made a triple off the glass, for 64-63 entering the final minute. After Tomic missed two free throw attempts, Lasme committed a turnover on the other end, giving Barcelona a chance to go in front. However, Jasikevicius missed a baseline jumper and Gist secured a rebound. He hit 1 of 2 from the foul line, giving the visitors 5.6 seconds for their final possession, but Navarro stumbled going coast-to-coast, and was forced into an impossible three-point attempt that hit the front rim and started celebrations of the home fans.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013