Barca rolls Zalgiris to stay perfect at home
FC Barcelona used a strong offensive display to get past Zalgiris Kaunas 96-73 at Palau Blaugrana on Friday en route to its fourth victory in a row to remain atop the Turkish Airlines Euroleague standings with a 10-2 record. The hosts trailed 5-11 in the early going, but 3 consecutive triples lit the fuse on their offense on the way to a 50-33 advantage right before halftime that Zalgiris could never recover from. Pierre Oriola paced the winners with 13 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists for a performance index rating of 25. Rokas Jokubaitis followed him by posting 15 points and career-high 7 assists against his former club. Nigel Hayes-Davis added 12 points, Nikola Mirotic 11 and Kyle Kuric 10. Tai Webster and Marek Blazevic, with 13 and 10 points respectively, led Zalgiris, who dropped to 2-10.
Zalgiris started strong as Zoran Dragic collected 4 points, Mantas Kalnietis followed with a triple and Tyler Cavanaugh completed a nice inside move to build a 5-11 lead after 4 minutes. The hosts found a timely answer from behind the arc and strung together a trio of three-pointers from different players on successive plays. Mirotic scored a contested hook shot to bring Barcelona back in charge and Sergi Martinez hit from the corner to make it 18-15. Josh Nebo contributed a layup to end Zalgiris's three-minute scoring drought, but Oriola stepped up to help Barcelona close the first period with a 24-17 edge.
A three-pointer by Martinez granted the hosts their first double-digit lead, 29-19, early in the second. Even though Webster came to the rescue for Zalgiris with consecutive buckets, Barcelona kept running a smooth offense that turned into a 44-27 advantage behind an 8-0 spark coming from the duo of Oriola and Hayes-Davies. The latter hit from deep soon after to keep Zalgiris far behind, 50-33, but a triple from Lukas Lekavicius and free throws by Edgaras Ulanovas allowed the guests to stay alive at halftime, 52-38.
Despite Kalnietis and Blazevic excelling on offense right after the break, Zalgiris was not able to short-circuit Barcelona's offense. As such, a double-digit difference remained midway through the third quarter, 67-52. Both squads traded free throws for a while until Rolands Smits and Jokubaitis showed up from deep to make it 75-56. The guests looked close to collapsing, as they were unable to score a single field goal for more than 4 minutes. A couple of free throws by Webster reduced the gap to 75-58 entering the last period.
Lekavicius ad Webster took advantage of the hosts' mistakes to lessen the wounds and bring Zalgiris within 75-62, but Hayes-Davies drilled a contested three and drew an unsportsmanlike foul soon after that Jokubaitis capped with another bomb and a layup to set it at 85-62 with 7 minutes remaining. With the outcome in no doubt, Barca head coach Saras Jasikevicius rewarded youngsters Michael Caicedo, Rafa Villar and James Nnaji with some playing time as the home team waited for the final whistle.
Laprovittola, Jokubaitis ran the show for Barca
With veteran Nick Calathes expected to miss the next six weeks due to injury, FC Barcelona found great point guard play from Nicolas Laprovittola and Rokas Jokubaitis. The duo combined for 15 of the hosts' 27 assists, as the former dished 8 and the latter signed off a career-high 7. Jokubaitis also stepped up in scoring, too, as Barca's top contributor with 15 points, tying his career-best- against his former team. Jokubaitis was perfect from downtown, hitting all 3 of his three-point attempts, and from the foul line, where he made 2 of 2.
By the numbers: Barcelona was unstoppable in offense
FC Barcelona was just 4 points shy of reaching triple digits in beating Zalgiris Kaunas 96-73. That mark tied the team's season-high, as Barca also had a magic night on offense against Alba Berlin in Round 1. This time, the hosts displayed outstanding accuracy from all over the court, especially in the first half, when they missed just 7 field goal attempts, going 14-for-18 on two-pointers (77.7%) and 6-for-9 (66.6%) from behind the arc. Even though Barca's percentages after the break weren't so amazing, the winners still finished with a remarkable 61.3% accuracy from two-point distance and 53.8% from three, good enough for another solid home victory.
Three-pointers from everybody
One of the crucial weapons FC Barcelona used against Zalgiris Kaunas was long-distance shooting. The home team drilled 14 three-pointers in the first half and 8 after the break. But what made Barca more dangerous than the amount of triples was the fact that they came from 10 different players. Even youngsters Michael Caicedo and Rafa Villar converted one each, joining in the three-point party. Jokubaitis was the top contributor for Barca from deep, hitting 3 attempts without a miss. Sergi Martinez and Nigel had 2 on as many attempts each, while Sertac Sanli, Rolands Smits, Kyle Kuric and Nikola Mirotic filled the statline with one apiece.
Friday, November 26, 2021