Partizan, which edged Regal Barcelona 67-66 in overtime
Partizan Belgrade shot to the top of Top 16 Group E by edging Regal Barcelona 67-66 in front of an incredible basketball atmosphere in the Serbian capital on Wednesday night. Partizan was pushed by a sellout crowd at Pionir Arena as it improved to 2-0 and handed Barcelona its first loss of the season. Jan Vesely paced the winners with 13 points and 15 rebounds and Lawrence Roberts added 12 points and 11 boards. Aleksandar Rasic scored 11 and Petar Bozic 10 for Partizan. Jaka Lakovic scored 14 points for Barcelona and Erazem Lorbek added 10. Partizan dominated the game in the first half and took a 35-24 lead at the break. Barcelona used a 0-10 run that Gianluca Basile capped with a three-pointer to return to the game at 40-40. Basile, Lorbek and Lakovic soon boosted the guests' lead to 45-54 early in the fourth quarter. A 9-0 run that Rasic capped with a triple put Partizan back ahead, 58-56. Lakovic tied the game with a shot from downtown with less than a minute to go in regulation and had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but his shot went in and out. Once in the extra period, Rasic made clutch free throws and after a long video replay by the referees, Pete Mickeal’s hook shot over Slavko Vranes at the buzzer was ruled no good, setting off wild celebrations in Belgrade.
Partizan head coach Dusko Vujosevic opted to place Bozic in its starting lineup to guard Juan Carlos Navarro. Vranes got the hosts going with a layup and Bozic added free throws for a 4-0 lead. Barcelona went scoreless in the opening two minutes, while a layup by Bozic and free throws by Vranes boosted the hosts' lead to 8-0. Roberts grabbed a defensive board and raced downcourt for a huge dunk that make the guests call timeout at 10-0. Boni Ndong stepped up with a five-meter jumper and Ricky Rubio added free throws, but Bozic kept Partizan way ahead at 12-4. Barcelona had adjusted its man-to-man defense and kept running its offense through Ndong in the high post, trying to get Vranes outside the paint. Vesely struck from downtown, but free throws by Ndong and a big triple by Lakovic got Barcelona within 15-9. Dusan Kecman got the crowd involved with an easy basket and Vesely scored in the paint to restore Partizan’s double-digit lead, 19-9. The guests kept missing open shots, but Lakovic kept pacing Barcelona with another triple. Kecman beat the buzzer with a three-pointer to set the crowd on fire, 23-12, after 10 minutes.
Barcelona tried to play more physical with Fran Vazquez, Terence Morris and Roger Grimau together on court. Partizan changed its game plan once Vranes returned to the game, trying to slow down the game tempo. Ndong shined with a put-back layup, but Partizan kept dominating the game with outstanding defense, backed by an incredible crowd. Strahinja Milosevic sank free throws, but Partizan entered the foul bonus really early in the second quarter. Lorbek quickly drew a foul and calmly made free throws for a 25-16 deficit. Points came the hard way now, but Partizan did not allow open shots and forced coach Xavi Pascual to call timeout to improve Barcelona's ball circulation. Rubio hit free throws, but Rasic answered from downtown and Vesely added an acrobatic layup in transition to boost the hosts' lead to 31-18. Partizan switched to a 2-3 zone defense that Ndong beat with a mid-range jumper. Lakovic soon added foul shots to give the guests some hope at 31-22. Rasic and Basile traded free throws and a buzzer-beating driving layup by Aleksandar Mitrovic kept Partizan way ahead, 35-24, at halftime.
Mickeal found his first points immediately after the break and Rubio added a layup off an inbound steal to bring Barcelona within 35-28. Partizan struggled to score early in the third quarter, but Vesely rescued the hosts with a layup. Rubio took over with a coast-to-cost layup and Navarro struck from downtown to make it a seven-point game. Partizan kept missing one shot after another. Meanwhile, Lorbek scored down low and Rubio fed Vazquez behind the back for a wild tomahawk dunk, good for a 40-37 Barcelona deficit. Basile capped a 0-10 run with a three-pointer in transition that tied the game at 40-40. Vesely and Bozic tried to change things with free throws, but Barcelona was its usual self in defense. Mickeal took over with a one-handed running jumper but Partizan had improved its defense late in this period. Even with that, a three-pointer by Lorbek completed the guests' comeback, 43-45. Basile collected a steal and raced downcourt for an easy layup to give Barcelona a 43-47 margin after 30 minutes.
Mickeal scored in penetration early in the fourth quarter and soon added free throws, as Barcelona was all over the place in defense right when it mattered. Bo McCalebb stepped up with an acrobatic driving layup in transition, but Lakovic immediately answered from downtown for a 45-54 Barcelona margin. Partizan tried to run its offense through McCalebb without Rubio on the floor, but Barcelona closed all passing lines and forced the hosts to take off-balance shots in each and every possession. Bozic got the crowd involved with a three-pointer to give the hosts some hope, 49-54, with over four minutes left. Ndong finished a long Barcelona offense with a close jumper, but Roberts matched it in the other end and Vranes dunked it to make the guests call timeout at 53-56. Milosevic shined with a high-flying tip-in and a wild three-pointer by Rasic put Partizan back ahead, 58-56, with over two minutes left. Roberts struck from downtown to cap a 12-0 Partizan run and make it a 5-point game. Navarro sank free throws and Partizan committed a turnover in the final minute. Lakovic downed a triple with 38 seconds left and Roberts missed from downtown, giving Barcelona a final chance to win it in regulation. Lakovic took a seven-meter shot that went in and out.
Navarro hit free throws early in overtime that Roberts matched with a power dunk. Both teams struggled to score in the extra period, as McCalebb and Rasic missed around the basket, while Navarro was off-target from downtown. Lorbek took over with a three-point play for a 63-66 Barcelona lead with under three minutes left. Partizan did not give up, however, as Roberts dunked it again for a 65-66 deficit with 1:10 to go. Lakovic missed from beyond the arc and Rasic copied him in the other end but Roberts grabbed a critical offensive board. Rasic drew a foul and made free throws for a 67-66 Partizan edge with 21.8 seconds left. It all came down to one shot, which Mickeal hooked over Vranes right at the buzzer. Roberts swept the ball away from the rim once the board was illuminated, signaling time had expired. Instant replay was needed, but the shot was not counted, allowing all Partizan fans to celebrate an incredible home win.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010