Barcelona bested Real Madrid 78-84
Regal FC Barcelona has made it to the Final Four! Regal FCB reached its second consecutive Final Four - its 11th overall, an all-time record since the format was chosen in 1988 - by edging archrivals Real Madrid 78-84 in the Spanish capital in Game 4 on Thursday. Barcelona will keep fighting for Euroleague glory and will face either CSKA Moscow or Caja Laboral in one of the semifinals in Paris, France. Meanwhile, Madrid had a bitter end to an otherwise fantastic Euroleague season. Juan Carlos Navarro paced the winners with 21 points. Ricky Rubio added an Euroleague career-high 19 points while Erazem Lorbek had 14 for Barcelona. Sergio Llull led Madrid with 20 points off the bench. Felipe Reyes added 11 while Ante Tomic had 10 for the hosts. Gianluca Basile and Lorbek shined in the early going with a fast break layup by Marko Jaric got Madrid within 19-20 after 10 minutes. Navarro shined in the second quarter to boost the guests' lead to 29-36 but Llull and Reyes kept Madrid as close as 41-45 at halftime. Back-to-back triples by Navarro kept Barcelona way ahead, 49-56, midway through the third quarter. Tomic, Travis Hansen and Reyes brought Madrid as close as 68-70 with 7 minutes left. Navarro and Rubio fueled a 0-7 run that broke the game open, 68-75. Madrid kept fighting but it was already too little, too late for the hosts, as Barcelona kept a safe edge and managed to seal its ticket to Paris.
Pete Mickeal got Barcelona going with a mid-range jumper, as Madrid tried twin point guards - Pablo Prigioni and Llull - in its starting lineup. Jorge Garbajosa downed a six-meter shot and then matched Lorbek's jump hook with a driving basket. Navarro stepped up with his trademark 'bomba,' but a jumper by Llull tied it at 6-6. A jump hook by Tomic soon gave Madrid its first lead, 8-6. Mickeal kept Barcelona going with a layup in the low post, but a two-handed dunk by Tomic restored Madrid’s slim edge. Navarro and Llull exchanged driving layups as the hosts kept finding easy baskets in transition. Barcelona called timeout to adjust its defense, but a turnaround jumper by Garbajosa gave Madrid a 14-10 lead. Basile sank a three-pointer off a screen, but a red-hot Garbajosa immediately answered from downtown. Jaka Lakovic hit free throws and a put-back layup by Lorbek tied it at 17-17. Barcelona had improved its defensive intensity with Basile and Fran Vazquez on court, so Madrid head coach Ettore Messina brought Reyes and Darjus Lavrinovic on court to power the offensive boards. Basile buried his trademark 'tiro ignorante' from way downtown, but a fast break layup off a steal by Jaric got Madrid within 19-20 after 10 minutes.
Rubio fed Vazquez for a reverse dunk early in the second quarter but Reyes bettered that with a layup-plus-foul, good for a 22-22 tie. Novica Velickovic soon added a layup in transition that Vazquez matched with an alley-oop dunk. Barcelona started to play more physical at both ends with Mickeal, Terence Morris and Vazquez together on court for the first time. Free throws by Rubio put the guests back ahead, 24-26. Louis Bullock followed a triple with a stop-and-pop jumper, but Navarro answered from downtown and Rubio added a driving layup for a 29-31 score. Morris joined the three-point shootout and free throws by Rubio boosted Barcelona's lead to 29-36. Velickovic, now playing small forward, finished a long, two-chance Madrid offense with an off-balance jumper. Llull buried a five-meter shot and free throws by Bullock brought Madrid as close as 36-38. Rubio sank foul shots that Llull bettered with a seven-meter bomb to make it 39-40. Roger Grimau rescued Barcelona with a three-point play as Madrid tried to run its offense through Bullock without much success. Vazquez shined with an alley-oop dunk, but free throws by Reyes fixed the halftime score at 41-45.
Hansen split free throws immediately after the break as Barcelona faced severe foul trouble with Vazquez and Mickeal already with 3 apiece. Rubio buried a three-pointer, but a jump hook by Tomic kept Madrid within 44-48. Lorbek stepped up with a put-back layup, but Hansen sank free throws on Mickeal's fourth foul. Navarro took over with a seven-meter bomb and even though Llull quickly answered from downtown, he buried another triple to keep Barcelona way ahead, 49-56. Barcelona entered the foul bonus and Madrid improved its intensity right when it mattered. Prigioni sank free throws and a three-pointer by Hansen made the guests call timeout at 54-56. Tomic hit free throws that Navarro matched with a 'bomba', as Llull went back to the bench with 4 fouls. Lorbek rolled off a high post pick for an easy dunk that Velickovic erased with free throws. Hansen found Tomic for an easy layup that Lorbek matched in the other end. Reyes sank a baseline jumper to bring Madrid as close as 62-63. Boni Ndong buried free throws to give Barcelona some fresh air, 62-65, at the end of the third quarter.
Jaric sank a turnaround jumper early in the fourth quarter but Lorbek answered from downtown for a 64-68 Barcelona lead. Reyes scored down low, as Barcelona tried to improve its offense with Lakovic and Navarro at both guards. Navarro took over with an incredible off-balance shot but a left-handed layup by Reyes kept Madrid as close as 68-70 with 7 minutes left. The game had turned into a physical battle and Rubio made the most out of it with a driving layup. Madrid struggled to find open shots despite using long possessions and a three-pointer by Navarro made Madrid call a much-needed timeout, 68-75, with over 4 minutes to go. Mickeal capped a 0-7 run with free throws but a jump hook by Velickovic and an electric driving layup by Llull gave Madrid some hope at 72-77. Vazquez took over with a tip-in that Llull improved with a fallaway three-pointer that set the crowd on fire, 75-79. Rubio answered from downtown but a layup-plus-foul by Llull kept Madrid within 78-82 with 1:40 left. Hansen committed a turnover and Barcelona used a couple of non-shooting foul to run the game clock down. Llull missed a driving layup and free throws by Rubio and Lorbek sealed the outcome, 78-84, with 13.3 seconds left, enough for all Barcelona players to celebrate that their team was back in the Final Four!
Thursday, April 1, 2010