Barcelona rides defense to down ASVEL
FC Barcelona continued its winning ways by downing visiting LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne 80-67 on Tuesday night at Palau Blaugrana. It was the third consecutive win for Barcelona and improved its record to 11-3 and second place in the standings, while ASVEL dropped to 6-8 on the season. Barcelona used a 15-4 run in the second quarter to open a double-digit margin and take the lead for good. ASVEL cut the deficit to 7 points, but never got closer than that. Alex Abrines led Barcelona with 16 points. Cory Higgins scored 13, Nikola Mirotic had 12 points and Brandon Davies added 10 in a winning effort. David Lighty had 16 points and 6 rebounds for the visitors. Charles Kahudi scored 12, while Theo Maledon and Amine Noua had 10 apiece for ASVEL.
Mirotic sparked Barcelona's offense from the start, but back-to-back threes from Jordan Taylor and Maledon brought ASVEL within 12-11. Barcelona kept going inside, once with Ante Tomic, and Higgins scored twice, but Lighty connected from long range twice as the visitors stayed close. A three-pointer from Rolands Smits made it 21-17 late in the first and a three-point play from Mirotic helped Barcelona open 25-19 at the start of the second quarter. But more triples, one from Noua and one from Rihards Lomazs, tied it at 27-27. However, Davies took it inside on consecutive possessions and Pierre Oriola hit a three and scored on a fast break to cap a 15-4 run and make it 42-31. ASVEL answered with a dunk from Lighty and a triple from Taylor, but back-to-back three-pointers from Abrines opened a 12-point margin and helped Barcelona take a 48-38 advantage into halftime. Mirotic, Higgins and Malcolm Delaney quickly extended it to 16 points in the third quarter, as Noua's triple was ASVEL's lone basket in the first 5 minutes of the quarter. Delaney hit a three-pointer to make it 58-41 before 8 points from Kahudi, including a triple and a three-point play, combined with a pair of baskets from Lighty drew the visitors within 63-56 going into the fourth quarter. But Barcelona stepped up defensively once again, allowing just 2 points in the next 7-plus minutes to open the final quarter. Even though the hosts struggled offensively themselves, a third triple from Abrines made it 70-58 and his fourth made it 76-58 with 3 minutes to go, sealing the outcome.
Defense wins it
This is the second time in the last 10 games and second time in seven home games that Barcelona has held opponents below 70 points. Barcelona allowed just 3 points in the first 5 minutes of the third quarter and just 2 points in more than 7 minutes to open the fourth quarter.
ASVEL tied the game at 27-27 after Barcelona used a 15-4 spurt to open its first double-digit lead of the game in the second quarter. Barcelona sealed the game with a 13-2 run in 7 minutes and 20 seconds to open the fourth quarter and extend its lead to 76-58.
Barcelona is one of the top teams in forcing turnovers. ASVEL entered the game among the top 5 in the league averaging 12.0 turnovers per game, however, that is the number of turnovers ASVEL had in the first half alone. The hosts then forced 4 more in the first 4 minutes of the second half and ASVEL finished with 21 turnovers for the night, tied for the second-most in a single game this season.
Stopping outside shooting
ASVEL hit 6 of its first 8 three-point attempts to stay in touch and shot 8 for 12 in the first half. But Barcelona played more aggressive in the second half, did not allow as many open looks and held ASVEL to 3-for-8 shooting from long range in the last two quarters.
Both teams will be in action again on Friday in Round 15. Barcelona goes on the road where it will face FC Bayern Munich, while ASVEL will be at home against ALBA Berlin.
Tuesday, December 17, 2019