FC Barcelona Regal held off Unics Kazan 78-66
FC Barcelona Regal took the first step to reach the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Final Four by downing Unics Kazan 78-66 at home in Game 1 of the playoffs on Tuesday. Barcelona now has a 1-0 lead in the best-of-five playoffs series and hosts Game 2 on Thursday. Pete Mickeal scored a season-high 22 points and grabbed 7 rebounds to pace the 2010 champs. Erazem Lorbek added 15 points, Juan Carlos Navarro scored 13, Boni Ndong 12 and Marcelinho Huertas dished 10 assists for the winners. Nathan Jawai led Barcelona with 15points, Henry Domercant added 12 and Valdimir Veremeenko tallied 11 points and 9 rebounds in defeat. Ndong shined early in the game and got some help from Navarro and Huertas to give Barcelona a 22-14 lead after 10 minutes. A fast break layup by Victor Sada allowed Barcelona to get its biggest margin of the night, 28-14. Kelly McCarty and Lynn Greer tried to change things for Unics, but Barcelona still kept a 45-33 lead at halftime. Terrell Lyday and Jawai fueled Unics's comeback early in the fourth quarter and a jumper by Domercant brought the guetss within 62-59. However Navarro, Mickeal and Lorbek shined in crunch time to lead Barcelona to a well-deserved and very critical home win.
Ndong got Barcelona going with a layup off an inbound pass and a wild alley-oop dunk, good for a 4-0 lead. Unics was held scoreless in the opening two minutes, but Veremeenko split free throws that Lorbek bettered with a three from the corner for a 7-1 Barcelona edge. Veremeenko scored with a layup that Mickeal matched at the other end. A close jumper by Ndong made Unics call timeout at 11-3. The guests adjusted their man-to-man defense while Jawai and Domercant brought their team within 11-7. Ndong banked in a close shot, which Jawai erased with an uncontested dunk. Navarro nailed a catch-and-shoot jumper and soon added free throws to restore a 17-9 Barcelona lead. Petr Samoylenko hit a one-handed jumper in the lane only to see Huertas answer from downtown for a 20-11 score. Samoylenko and Domercant made free throws before Huertas hit a mid-range shot to give Barcelona a 22-14 lead after 10 minutes.
Unics tried McCarty and Bostjan Nachbar at the forward spots against Barcelona's second unit. Xavi Rabaseda buried a rainbow triple, however, and a layup by C.J. Wallace made it a 12-point game. Unics could not find the way to the basket for more than three minutes during which a fast break layup by Sada capped an 8-0 Barcelona run, 28-14. Greer stepped up with an off-balance jumper - and the free throw that came with it. Sada set the crowd on fire with a three-pointer that McCarty matched with his trademark corner triple. Navarro stepped up with a 'bomba' but Veremeenko followed a close basket with a three-pointer to give Unics hope at 33-25. Rabaseda fed Lorbek for a layup-plus-foul in transition. Unics kept finding good shots. McCarty nailed a running hook and free throws by Greer brought the guests a bit closer, 36-29. Mickeal downed an open triple and free throws by Navarro gave Barcelona a 12-point margin. Greer and Lorbek traded jumpers and Mickeal hit free throws, but Jawai kept Unics within 45-33 at halftime.
Barcelona struggled to score after the break. Meanwhile, Jawai followed a two-handed dunk with a layup-plus-foul to bring Unics within 45-38. Lorbek stepped up with free throws, as Unics entered the foul bonus really early in the third quarter. Barcelona made the most out of it, attacking the basket to go the foul line often. Navarro hit foul shots and a three-pointer by Mickeal boosted Barcelona's lead to 52-39. Domercant answered from downtown, but he didn't find much help. Unics managed to stay aggressive on defense and a three-pointer by McCarty made it a 7-point game. Mickeal scored in penetration and even after Jawai hit a jump hook, Lorbek beat the shot clock with a big triple for a 57-47 Barcelona margin. Jawai and Domercant made free throws, but a jump hook by Kosta Perovic gave his team a 59-50 edge. Mickeal and Lyday exchanged three-pointers to fix the score at 62-53 after three quarters.
Lyday buried a long jumper early in the fourth quarter and soon added a wild driving layup to force Barcelona to call timeout at 62-57. The hosts had been scoreless for more than three minutes and a rainbow jumper by Domercant made it a three-point game, 62-59. Navarro came off the bench and immediately delivered with a three-pointer off a screen. Lyday quickly answered from downtown but a layup by Ndong sent the crowd to their feet at 67-62. Mickeal took over with a driving basket that made Unics call timeout, 69-62, with over 4 minutes to go. Veremeenko rescued Unics with a backdoor layup that Lorbek bettered matched with a long jumper for a 71-64 Barcelona lead with 2 minutes remaining. Samoylenko missed from downtown and free throws by Mickeal sealed the outcome, 73-64. Unics kept trying but Barcelona had already cruised to a very important win that got the team a bit closer to the Final Four.
Tuesday, March 20, 2012