Mirotic leads Barcelona to home win
FC Barcelona registered its first home win in 2020 by downing Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade 86-82 at Palau Blaugrana on Thursday. Barcelona improved to 15-6 in the standings, while Zvezda dropped to 9-12. Nikola Mirotic led the winners with 25 points and Brandon Davies added 10 for Barcelona. Lorenzo Brown scored 15 to pace the Zvezda attack, Kevin Punter added 13 and Vladimir Stimac and James Gist each had 12 for the visitors. Mirotic had 14 first-quarter points and got help from Kyle Kuric and Victor Claver to give Barcelona a 29-19 lead after 10 minutes. Gist and Stimac stepped up for Zvezda and helped the visitors get the lead, 41-42, at halftime. Davies and Kuric rescued Barcelona after the break, giving the hosts a 60-55 margin. Punter nailed consecutive three-pointers in an 0-11 run that allowed Zvezda to get a 62-66 edge after 30 minutes. Alex Abrines and Pierre Oriola led a 10-0 run that put Barcelona ahead for good, 77-70. Zvezda managed to get within 79-78, but Mirotic and Pau Ribas each hit a triple in crunch time to seal Barcelona's win.
Ognjen Kuzmic and Ognjen Dobric got Zvezda going and Borisa Simanic struck from downtown for a 2-7 Zvezda lead. Kuzmic kept pushing the visitors with a put-back basket and Brown added a driving layup, but Kuric kept Barcelona close. Mirotic found his first points and Davies tied the game with a tip-in, 11-11. Claver scored down low, igniting a 7-0 run that Mirotic capped with a fast break slam to give Barcelona an 18-13 lead. Brown dunked off a steal, but Barcelona kept running its offense through Mirotic, who singlehandedly boosted his team's lead to 23-15. Tomic hit a jump hook and Claver followed a layup with a dunk for a double-digit Barcelona lead, 29-19, after 10 minutes. Cory Higgins scored in the paint early in the second quarter. Brown matched that with a coast-to-coast layup, opening a 0-8 run highlighted by a Gist dunk that brought Zvezda within 31-27. Higgins rescued Barcelona with consecutive layups, but Stimac and Gist drew Zvezda within 35-31. After Ribas and Gist traded triples, Stimac hit a jumper which prompted the hosts to stop the game at 38-36. Charles Jenkins hit a jumper and Stimac bettered him with a three-pointer to complete Zvezda's comeback, 39-42. Mirotic hit a jumper to fix the halftime score at 41-42.
Kuric and Claver each hit a three-pointer after the break, but so did Dobric and Billy Baron for a 47-48 Zvezda lead. Mirotic scored down low and fed Davies for a three-point play in a 7-0 run that restored a 54-48 Barcelona lead. Gist rescued Zvezda with a power basket and a dunk-and-foul. Jenkins added a jumper to give Zvezda hope at 60-58. Punter nailed back-to-back triples in an 0-11 run that Nikola Jovanovic capped to give the visitors a 60-66 lead, which Ante Tomic cut to 62-66 after 30 minutes. Kuzmic dunked early in the fourth quarter, but Oriola did better with a bomb from downtown and Tomic sank a jumper for a 67-68 Barcelona deficit. Punter downed a mid-range jumper but Barcelona found new scorers as Abrines and Malcolm Delaney combined for 7 points in a 10-0 run that caused Zvezda to stop the game at 77-70. Brown silenced the crowd with a huge dunk-and-foul and Stimac struck from beyond the arc to give Zvezda hope at 77-76. Delaney stepped up with a driving layup that Brown matched with a dunk. Mirotic sank a critical three-pointer and Ribas copied him soon after that to seal the outcome, 86-80, with 48.1 seconds remaining.
Once again, Nikola Mirotic made the difference for Barcelona with his all-around scoring skills and determination. He finished the game with 25 points on 8-of-12 two-point shooting, 1-of-6 on three-pointers and 6-of-7 free throws. He added 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 6 fouls drawn for a PIR of 25.
Zvezda got within 79-78 late in the game but Mirotic, who had missed all of his 5 three-point shots until then, struck from beyond the arc. Pau Ribas split free throws and soon added his own three-pointer from the right wing that sealed the outcome, 86-80, in the final minute. Two well-selected shots allowed Barcelona to make the difference down the stretch.
The game came down to small details and even though three-point shots made the difference down the stretch, the two-point shooting difference was important. Barcelona hit 24 of 39 two-pointers (61.5%). Zvezda took more shots (42) but made less (23) than its opponents (54.8%).
Did you notice?
Vladimir Stimac made 2 three-point shots in this game. It was the first time that Stimac made multiple three-pointers in his 104-game EuroLeague career. In fact, Stimac had only made 2 three-point shots in his entire EuroLeague career - one against LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne earlier this season and another with FC Bayern Munich against Fenerbahce Ulker Istanbul on November 13, 2014. Stimac is now 4 of 13 from downtown in his EuroLeague career.
Both teams return to EuroLeague action next week. Barcelona takes on Zenit St Petersburg on Thursday, January 30. Zvezda welcomes Anadolu Efes Istanbul on Friday night.
Thursday, January 23, 2020