Mirotic leads Barcelona to first place in El Clásico
In a direct battle to lead the standings, FC Barcelona took the first clásico of the season by downing Real Madrid 93-80 at Palau Blaugrana on Friday to take sole possession of first place in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. Barcelona is now atop the table with a 12-2 record, with Real right behind at 11-3. Nikola Mirotic led the winners with 31 points and 10 rebounds. Brandon Davies and Nicolas Laprovittola added 16 each while Rokas Jokubaitis had 12 for Barca. Fabien Causeur and Thomas Heurtel led Real with 11 points apiece. Sergio Llull, Walter Tavares and Nigel Williams-Goss each had 10 for the guests. Mirotic had 13 first-quarter points, getting help from Davies and Jokubaitis for a 24-19 Barca lead after 10 minutes. Davies and Jokubaitis allowed the hosts to extend their margin to 47-35 but Rudy Fernandez and Llull got Real within 51-42 at the break. Laprovittola boosted Barca's lead to 64-51 but Williams-Goss helped Real to get within 67-58 after 30 minutes. Real kept its chances open until the final 4 minutes, but then Mirotic made the difference, sealing the outcome in style.
Tavares hit a jumper and Llull added an up-and-under layup for a 0-4 Real lead. Adam Hanga hit a floater and bettered Mirotic's driving layup with a bomb from downtown as the visitors' lead reached 2-9. Mirotic kept pacing Barca and Jokubaitis added a three-point play to keep the hosts within 9-11. Causeur struck from beyond the arc but Dante Exum, making his debut for Barca, scored in penetration and Mirotic followed a three-pointer with a jumper that gave the hosts their first lead, 16-14. Causeur sank another triple but Davies followed a jumper with a layup, getting help from Mirotic and Jokubaitis to boost Barca ahead 24-19 after 10 minutes.
Davies followed a dunk with a three-point play early in the second quarter. Kyle Kuric took over with a reverse layup to make it a double-digit game, 31-21. Causeur buried his third three-pointer and Heurtel matched Kuric's layup with a jumper. Davies and Vincent Poirier traded baskets and Laprovittola hit a step-back triple to restore a 38-28 Barcelona lead. Heurtel answered from downtown but Jokubaitis stepped up with a layup and Davies hit a triple for a 43-31 score. Llull and Jokubaitis traded jumpers, Tavares dunked and Mirotic kept the hosts way ahead, 47-35. Fernandez and Llull each buried a three-pointer, bringing Real a bit closer, 51-42, at halftime.
Mirotic buried a deep three-pointer right after the break. Causeur tried to change things with a floater but Laprovittola improved it with a bomb from downtown and added a three-point play that gave his team a 60-46 margin. Heurtel stepped up for Real and Guerschon Yabusele found his first points but Mirotic kept the hosts way ahead, 64-51. Heurtel took over with a driving layup that Jokubaitis improved with a bomb from beyond the arc. Williams-Goss followed a three-point play with a coast-to-coast layup, giving Real hope, 67-58, at the end of the third quarter.
Laprovittola struck from beyond the arc early in the fourth quarter and Davies hit a jumper but Williams-Goss singlehandedly kept Real within 72-61. Fernandez buried a deep triple but Laprovittola and Kuric kept the hosts fully in charge, 76-64. Kuric struck from beyond the arc, Poirier hit a jump hook and Sertac Sanli gave Barcelona an 81-66 margin with over 6 minutes left. Yabusele dunked and Llull added a layup that kept Real within 81-70. Yabusele hit a triple and Heurtel hit his trademark stop-and-pop jumper to get Real within single digits, 84-76, with over 4 minutes left. Sanli rescued the hosts with a tip-in that Tavares matched with a layup but Mirotic sealed the outcome, 91-80, already in the final minute.
Laprovittola shines against his former team
All eyes were on Thomas Heurtel, Adam Hanga and Nicolas Laprovittola as FC Barcelona hosted Real Madrid in Round 14 at Palau Blaugrana, as all three players returned to a Turkish Airlines EuroLeague 'Clásico' against their former teams. Laprovittola had the final words, as he led Barcelona to a 93-80 victory with an outstanding performance. He finished the game with 16 points on 3-for-4 shooting from downtown, adding 2 rebounds, 4 assists and 6 fouls drawn for a PIR of 22, his second-best mark this season. In the last four games since starting point guard Nick Calathes was injured, Laprovittola has averaged 14.8 points, 5.5 assists and a PIR of 19.5.
Barcelona's accuracy makes the difference
FC Barcelona and Real Madrid faced each other in Round 14, and even when the foul difference was not huge - Real picked up 27 fouls, Barcelona 25 -, the hosts went to the foul line more than their opponents, and were way more accurate. Barcelona hit 26-of-29 free throws (89.7%) while Real went to the foul line 21 times, hitting 11 attempts only. Its free throw shooting percentage, 52.4%, was its second-lowest this season - it hit 44.4% of its attempts in Round 12 against Bitci Baskonia Vitoria-Gasteiz. Barcelona also had a season-high 6 blocks against Real.
Mirotic's legendary performance
Nikola Mirotic had an outstanding performance in Round 14, leading FC Barcelona to a 93-80 victory against archrivals Real Madrid. Mirotic finished the game with 31 points, matching his career-best effort. That had come when he played for Real against Zalgiris Kaunas on March 7, 2013. On Friday, he added 10 rebounds and 9 fouls drawn for a PIR of 39, a new personal best. The last Barcelona player to score more than 30 points in a EuroLeague game was Juan Carlos Navarro, who also got 31 against Zalgiris on November 9, 2006. As for PIR, it ties the second-best mark in club history. Ante Tomic still holds the record with a PIR of 40 against Anadolu Efes Istanbul on February 27, 2014.
Friday, December 10, 2021