Barcelona survives collapse, extends winning run
League leader FC Barcelona survived a third-quarter collapse and blew a big lead before managing to knock off Olympiacos Piraeus 74-76 on the road to extend its winning streak to six games. Cory Higgins decided the game when he hit 2 free throws with 6.3 seconds left and the hosts missed three chances in the waning seconds to force overtime. Barcelona, which saw its 12-point third-quarter lead disappear, was paced by Nikola Mirotic with 16 points and 5 rebounds, while Higgins scored 14 points. Nick Calathes had 12 points and 7 assists, Pierre Oriola scored 11 and Brandon Davies chipped in 10 points as Barcelona improved to 17-6. Olympiacos has now lost four of the last five to fall to 11-12 despite Shaquielle McKissic pouring in 18 points. Vassilis Spanoulis scored 12 points, Kostas Sloukas 11 and Georgios Printezis had 10 points in the loss.
Oriola and Calathes teamed up early on as Calathes assisted on both of Oriola’s baskets and hit a three-pointer for a 0-7 lead. Olympiacos committed turnovers on its first three possessions and didn’t score until Octavius Ellis’s dunk after 2 minutes. Higgins made a triple for Barcelona as the lead grew to 2-13. Sloukas managed 4 points, but two more baskets by Oriola gave him 10 points already in a 6-18 advantage. Olympiacos was able to put together a 6-3 finish to the frame and trail 12-21 after 10 minutes. Rolands Smits’s dunk started the second quarter for the guests while Olympiacos continued to crash the offensive glass after its misses, grabbing 2 offensive rebounds before Livio Jean-Charles scored. Olympiacos was able to score more consistently and McKissic’s triple trimmed the gap to 22-27. Smits and Adam Hanga connected from deep as the cushion swelled to 26-37 and Olympiacos trailed 30-40 at the break.
Higgins got the scoreboard going in the second half and two Mirotic baskets had the guests up 35-46. But the Barcelona offense fell apart with 5 turnovers over the next nearly 5 minutes in a 12-0 Olympiacos run featuring a putback dunk by Ellis and a Printezis triple for its first lead, 47-46. Mirotic and Higgins punched back with transition scores, but McKissic’s triple had Olympiacos ahead 53-50 after 30 minutes.
McKissic drained another triple to start the fourth quarter to open the gap to 56-50. Davies came up with three scores at the other end and Kyle Kuric knotted it at 59-59. Spanoulis and Giannoulis Larentzakis both hit triples to push Olympiacos back ahead 65-61. Barcelona would not go away with Mirotic leveling it 67-67. After Sloukas and Higgins swapped three-pointers, Spanoulis put in back-to-back layups and the hosts were up 74-72 with 70 seconds to play. After Mirotic tied it with 2 free throws, Sloukas turned it over with 22 seconds to play. Jean-Charles was adjudged to have fouled Higgins with 6.3 seconds left. Olympiacos coach Georgios Bartzokas was hit with a technical foul, for which Mirotic missed the free throw. Higgins converted his 2 foul shots. On the final possession, Spanoulis's three-point attempt was short and Hassan Martin’s putback was off target as was Sloukas's tip-in. Printezis managed to tip in Sloukas’s miss, but it came just after the final buzzer.
No place like the road
Home teams continue to struggle of late in this matchup as the hosts have lost five of the last six games in the series. Olympiacos’s last home victory over Barcelona was in November 2016.
Career-highs for Ellis
Octavius Ellis fouled out after playing just 13:18 minutes, but they were very productive for the Olympiacos big man. He scored 8 points and grabbed 13 rebounds - 7 of them off the offensive glass. He evened his personal rebound mark and set a new personal record for offensive rebounds - one more than his previous best.
Barcelona converted 64.7% of its two-point shots and held Olympiacos to just 27.6% shooting from long range. Barcelona was able to get out on the break for some easy points - 12-2 on the fast break. Those numbers helped make up for Barcelona giving up 17 Olympiacos offensive rebounds and committing 18 turnovers.
Barcelona will return home for its next game when it hosts Anadolu Efes Istanbul on Thursday, February 4. Olympiacos’s next game will be the local derby with Panathinaikos OPAP Athens at home on Friday, February 5.
Thursday, January 28, 2021