Oklahoma City Thunder wrapped up its trip to Spain by downing Turkish Airlines EuroLeague powerhouse FC Barcelona Lassa 89-92 at Palau Sant Jordi, Barcelona, as part of this season's NBA Global Games on Wednesday. Oklahoma City completes its trip to Spain with a 1-1 record after losing in overtime to Real Madrid 142-137 on Monday. Short-handed Barcelona, which was without four injured players, Tyrese Rice, Petteri Koponen, Shane Lawal and Pau Ribas, saw its three-game home winning streak against NBA teams come to an end. Despite its many injuries, Barcelona led the game throughout the first half, taking a 17-15 edge on an alley-oop slam by Joey Dorsey and extending it to 45-36 on a turnaround jumper by Brad Oleson. Oklahoma City closed to within 47-45 at halftime and took the lead, 58-65, behind a solid performance from Russell Westbrook. Back-to-back triples by Victor Claver and Juan Carlos Navarro helped Barcelona regain the lead at 68-67 at the end of the third quarter. An outstanding Claver gave Barcelona an 84-78 lead, but former Barcelona guard Alex Abrines and Enes Kanter put Oklahoma City ahead 89-90 in the final minute. Sasha Vezenkov missed twice from downtown in the final seconds and Oklahoma City escaped with the win. Kanter led the winners with 24 points and Westbrook added 12 for Oklahoma City. Claver led all scorers with 25 points, Vezenkov added 13 while Tomic and Oleson each had 10 for Barcelona.
A three-pointer by Oleson gave Barcelona an early 3-2 lead. Kanter fueled a 0-6 Oklahoma City run, but a corner triple by Claver soon put the hosts back ahead, 11-10. An alley-oop dunk by Dorsey pushed Barcelona ahead 17-15 as Oklahoma City kept missing shots in transition. Westbrook and Ersan Ilyasova stepped up for Oklahoma City and a rainbow triple by Vezenkov kept Barcelona within 25-26 after 12 minutes. Stratos Perperoglou and Stefan Peno gave Barcelona a 35-28 lead early in the second quarter. Tomic kept scoring fluently in the paint and a dunk by Claver boosted his team's margin to 42-34, which Oklahoma City cut to 47-45 at halftime.
Oklahoma City improved its defense after the break and a 360 dunk by Andre Roberson gave his team a 49-52 edge. Justin Doellman stepped up for Barcelona, but Tomic returned to the bench with 4 fouls. Meanwhile, Victor Oladipo and Westbrook took advantage of Barcelona's shot-handed backcourt to keep Oklahoma City in charge, 58-65. Navarro took over with 5 points in a 10-2 run, including a three-pointer that put Barcelona back ahead, 68-67, at the end of the third quarter.
Joffrey Lauvergne became OKlahoma City's go-to guy early in the fourth quarter, allowing his team to regain the lead, 68-73. Three-pointers by Claver and Vezenkov - two apiece - put Barcelona in charge, 82-78, with less than six minutes left. Claver kept pushing Barcelona with a dunk and he soon added a three-pointer for an 89-86 lead in the next-to-last minute. Back-to-back baskets by Kanter gave Oklahoma City the lead. Barcelona got the ball back with 20 seconds left but Vezenkov missed an open shot from the right corner. Kanter made free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining and Vezenkov missed again from downtown at the buzzer.
Barcelona opens the 2016-17 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague against Unics Kazan on Friday, October 14.
Georgios Bartzokas, Head Coach, FC Barcelona Lassa
"It was a great challenge for us to play against such a very strong team in this period. At the same time, everybody knows we have a lot of injured players. Almost all of our backcourt was out. So we are happy we were able to compete during the game and had the chance to win. I think we controlled it for 48 minutes, but we made some turnovers and that had to do with Oklahoma City's aggressiveness, too. Whenever we made three or four passes, we had a good chance to score, but they had great defensive hands and made some steals and got back in the game. We had a chance to win it from the corner, but we missed. OK, no problem.
"For us, playing with NBA rules was a little bit strange. Three times we had three-second violations on defense. We didn't have time to prepare for the rules of the NBA. But we knew from the beginning that we'd play with those rules. We had some issues with travelling, some things to complain about. But for us, it was a great challenge and new experience to play with NBA rules. I would like to say that I am grateful for our fans coming here to support us and to watch such a great game. We are working for their support all season.
"Of course it was my first experience in a game against and NBA team. I enjoyed it a lot and I think our team enjoyed playing the game. We were very competitive from the first minute to the end. Now, I think the NBA is of course something amazing for everyone involved with basketball. And I think we're going to be much better playing against NBA teams. This helped us and I think it helped them, because basketball changes every day. We have some ideas, they have some ideas, so this is a good opportunity to exchange."
Victor Claver, Forward, FC Barcelona Lassa
"Our objective wasn't to win the game. Our main objective was to prepare for the season coming up. We have to go ahead knowing that we have just a few healthy players and all of us have to help. I just came to this team as a new player. We have a lot of great players on the team with more experience. I want to add my experience to theirs and try to play with confidence. I was feeling good on the court today, and I think our coach and my teammates saw that and that's why they were calling more plays for me. But the way we play is not for one player. We try to move the ball and that was key to having so many open threes. It's good to feel comfortable after one month here and I have to thank my teammates and coaches for helping me. Now am on a team where I have a bigger role and that influences also the opportunities you have, the offensive chances you get and the points you can score. Like I said, everyone is important on the team and every one can have chances to attack, and I think it's a little different than the mentality in the NBA."
Justin Doellman, Forward, FC Barcelona Lassa
"We feel good. A lot of guys played tonight, which was great. We had a good rotation. It was a close game and unfortunately we didn’t win, but it was a lot of fun. It was great for the fans. It’s always fun to play against great players. This closes the preseason and we’re ready to start."
Stefan Peno, Guard, FC Barcelona Lassa
"I did what Coach asked me to do, get players involved, pass the ball a lot and be strong on defense. I am happy to get this opportunity and thankful for the confidence. It is an unforgettable experience and we proved we can play against NBA teams. We have proved we are not far behind. We had a three-point shot to win and Madrid beat them. Maybe some NBA teams are really close [on playing level] to some EuroLeague teams."
Billy Donovan, Head Coach, Oklahoma City Thunder
"First, I'd like to say we've had a great time here in Spain, in Madrid and in Barcelona. It was a great experience for our group to work at getting closer with new pieces and new faces. It allowed us in two games to play two unique and different styles of play. So I thought the trip was very beneficial. I thought it was good because, obviously, with Russell [Westbrook], we're not going to play him a lot of minutes, and Steven Adams hurt, that gave our new guys a great opportunity to play. I think from Monday to today we got better as a team and that's what you want to be able to do from this trip. Our three-point defense was not great in Madrid. Some of that honestly was more myself as a coach. We worked on trying to help each other and maybe that sunk in too deep. But we were better defensively guarding the three tonight."
Russell Westbrook, Guard, Oklahoma City Thunder
"Coach got on us about being more physical [on defense]. Obviously they made some tough shots still, but it was a better effort on that side of the ball. We know how to play if we put our mind on it. We responded to coach getting on us and that was a big part of it."
Alex Abrines, Guard, Oklahoma City Thunder
"I feel very good. I expected to be well received by the fans and that’s what happened. I am happy to be back here playing with an NBA team. I was playing hard and just trying to win. This was the way to show respect against my ex-teammates. [Barcelona] looks quite good. The fact that they were able to do so well despite missing the important players that were missing shows that they have character, they have personality. And it shows that they are a team to be taken into account as candidates to win the title this year. It was very important to us to win. Obviously we have lots of things to improve and we are going to get better as the season goes on."