Mirotic, on buzzer, keeps Barca perfect with 74-76 win at Fenerbahce
In a classic battle that seesawed until the finish, FC Barcelona proved one shot tougher in downing host Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul 74-76 on a buzzer-beating game-winner from Nikola Mirotic on Tuesday. Barcelona stayed unbeaten at 6-0 while Fenerbahce's second straight one-point loss dropped its record to 2-4. After Devin Booker tied it 74-74 with 6.2 seconds left on a smashing dunk, Barcelona looked for Mirotic in the post, where he scored a twisting shot off the backboard for the win. Cory Higgins paced the winners with 18 points and Brandon Davies added 16 while Nick Calathes chipped in 11 plus 7 assists. Fenerbahce got 24 points from Jan Vesely and 17 from Marko Guduric.
Vesely's trio of clean jumpers made it 6-0 before Higgins got Barcelona going with a put-back. That merely interrupted Vesely, though. He downed 2 more baskets before Guduric joined him to make it 12-2, marking Barca's first double-digit deficit of the season! Calathes corrected that with a layup then fed Higgins for another. Kyle Kuric and Dyshawn Pierre traded the game's first triples at 16-11. Nando De Colo fed Achille Polonara smartly on the break as Fenerbahce held a 20-14 lead after 10 minutes.
Marial Shayok opened the second-quarter scoring for Fenerbache before Mirotic opened his tally at the foul line and Rolands Smits dropped a turnaround at 22-18. Nigel Hayes-Davis scored inside and fed Calathes for a second-chance triple after Pierria Henry combined with Booker for a dunk as Fenerbahce stayed ahead 27-23. Calathes and both got the visitors within a basket of tying. Davies finally accomplished that with a baseline jumper and then took a pass from Higgins to mark Barca's first lead, at 29-31. Higgins and Hayes-Davis kept it going until Barca held a 29-35 halftime advantage.
Guduric scored 5 points soon after halftime to keep the hosts within 34-39. When Vesely fed Pierre for an open triple the difference was down to 39-41. Neither team could break the other's defense for a while until Calathes and Nicolas Laprovittola dropped free throws before De Colo fed Vesely for a slam at 41-45. Sehmus Hazer climbed off the Fenerbahce bench for an acrobatic layup and free throw at 44-47. Polonara's put-back made it a one-point game and Hazer's steal led to go-ahead free throws from Vesely. Nonetheless, Calathes found Smits in low for a layup before the third-quarter buzzer to keep Barca ahead 48-49.
Calathes fed Higgins and Vesely did the same for Hazer to start the fourth quarter at 50-51. Smits stayed strong with a put-back and Calathes found Davies to make it 50-55 before Guduric buried 3 free throws. A second-chance triple from Higgins was answered by De Colo in the paint, but Higgins returned to the arc for one more at 55-61. Guduric lifted Fenerbahce from deep, and after a lull in both directions, hit another triple that came with a free throw for a scoreboard-flipping four-point play at 62-61 with 3:33 to play. Davies, who had just missed free throws for Barca, now blasted a triple, but Vesely answered from the baseline for a 64-64 tie. Vesely drove strong at 66-65 but was called for an unsportsmanlike foul that let Higgins make it 66-67 with 2:04 to play. With the extra possession, Davies converted a three-point play to make it 66-70. Henry appeared with his first triple after 4 misses to make it 69-70 for Fenerbahce. Hayes-Davies and Mirotic added 2 free throws each for Barca, while Vesely hit 1 of 2 but put back his own rebound for a 72-74 score with 41 seconds left. Davies was triple-teamed and committed a turnover before Booker took a loose ball in stride for a game-tying super slam at 74-74 with 6.2 seconds left. Barcelona called timeout and got the ball to Mirotic for another of his spectacular many game-winning plays with the club.
Davies, Mirotic stuck with it
Neither of FC Barcelona's top performers through the team's first five unbeaten rounds seemed ready to resolve a sixth one when the fourth quarter started on the court of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul on Tuesday. Nikola Mirotic had 3 points and as many turnovers for a PIR of 0 after 30 minutes. And though Brandon Davies was better, with a PIR of 11, he had only 2 rebounds in under 12 minutes. Both rallied after that, however, especially once Fenerbahce took a 62-61 lead with 3:33 to play. In what time was left, Davies made a huge three-point shot and then went inside for 3 more points the hard way. Mirotic added a couple of clutch free throws, but saved his best for last, a contested turnaround flip shot off the glass for just his second field goal of the game. As it came with time running out, though, it was enough for him to be the game's hero -- with a strong second to his fellow big man. They combined for 10 of Barcelona’s last 15 points to keep their team perfect.
Vesely's bittersweet night
He started the game with 10 points in a row and finished it willing his team back in front. In between, Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul center Jan Vesely was a force, with a team-high 8 rebounds and what would eventually be his best scoring total of the season, 24 points. When he made gave Fenerbahce a 66-65 lead on a layup scored with 2:26 to play, it seemed he would not let his team lose. But a broken play came next that let Barca jump in front, 66-70, on a five-point possession during which Vesely was called for two fouls, the first of them unsportsmanlike. He did not quit, getting 3 of those points back with 41 seconds left before his frontcourt mate Devin Booker tied the game in the closing seconds, only to see Barcelona's Nikola Mirotic hand Fenerbahce its second consecutive one-point defeat on the buzzer.
Tuesday, October 26, 2021