Larkin leads Efes past Barcelona
Anadolu Efes Istanbul broke its three-game losing streak in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season by downing FC Barcelona 86-79 at Sinan Erdem Sports Hall on Tuesday. Efes improved to 8-8 in the standings while Barcelona dropped to 11-5 and recorded back-to-back losses for the first time in this EuroLeague season. Shane Larkin led the winners with 23 points. Vasilije Micic had 17, Krunoslav Simon added 16 while Bryant Dunston got 12 for Efes. Nikola Mirotic led Barcelona with 18 points. The guests also got 15 points from Nick Calathes and 14 from Cory Higgins. Barcelona got its last lead, 43-45, right after the break, but Efes used a 12-0 run to take full control of the game, as Micic and Larkin held off the guests' comeback in the final 2 minutes.
Artem Pustovyi got Barcelona going with an alley-oop slam and Mirotic followed a layup with a three-pointer for a 0-7 lead. Simon and Dunston stepped up for Efes, igniting a 10-2 run that Micic capped with a fastbreak layup for a 10-9 lead. Mirotic and Calathes fueled an 0-11 response for the visitors in which Alex Abrines followed a wild three-point play with a triple for 10-20 Barcelona margin. Anderson and Micic got help from Sertac Sanli and Larkin to bring Efes within 18-24 after 10 minutes. Rolands Smits buried a three-pointer early in the second quarter and Pierre Oriola added a backdoor layup for a 22-29 Barcelona lead. Rodrigue Beaubois hit an up-and-under jumper, Simon struck twice from beyond the arc and Larkin added an acrobatic driving layup that let Efes regain the lead at 32-31. Sanli and Mirotic traded layups, then a red-hot Simon boosted the Efes lead to 37-33. Larkin and Simon kept pacing Efes but Mirotic, Higgins and Smits helped Barcelona tie it, 43-43, at halftime. Micic and Larkin each scored around the basket after the break and Dunston dunked for a 49-45 Efes edge. Dunston dunked again and Micic struck from downtown to make it a double-digit game, 55-45, after a 12-0 run. Higgins scored in penetration but Larkin and Simon each buried a triple to break the game open, 61-47. Dunston dunked again and Moerman joined the three-point shootout but Adam Hanga and Oriola kept Barcelona within 68-54 after 30 minutes. Calathes hit a floater early in the fourth quarter before Larkin and Dunston restored a 72-56 Efes lead. Hanga and Calathes tried to ignite the guests' comeback, then Higgins and Mirotic each sank a triple to make it 75-67 with over 6 minutes left. Micic and Higgins exchanged driving layups, and Calathes improved that with a three-pointer for a 77-72 score. Micic kept pacing Efes with 4 quick points but Calathes and Mirotic kept Barcelona as close at 81-77 with 1:16 left. Larkin took over with a huge driving basket and sealed the outcome from the foul line.
Larkin showed his best version in this game. He was simply unstoppable at times, making the difference in the game with 23 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals and as many as 9 fouls drawn for a season-high PIR of 37.
Efes trailed 43-45 right after halftime but kept Barcelona scoreless for almost 5 minutes. Meanwhile, Larkin and Micic combined for 7 points and 3 assists in a 12-0 run in which Dunston dunked twice. By the time Micic fed Larkin for a bomb from downtown, Efes led 55-43 and never looked back.
Efes shot the ball much better inside the arc. Both teams took 38 two-point attempts but Efes hit 22 (57.9%) and Barcelona just 17 (44.7%). Efes had an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.8 (19 assists, 5 turnovers) and Barcelona had a 1.15 ratio (15 assists, 13 turnovers).
Did you know?
Larkin reached a PIR of 35 or better against Barcelona for the third time in his EuroLeague career. Previously, Larkin had a PIR of 43 against Barcelona (37 points, 3 shots missed) on March 8, 2019, and recorded a PIR of 35 (26 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists) al Palau Blaugrana on January 10, 2020.
Both teams return to EuroLeague action next week in Round 17. Efes hosts Real Madrid on Tuesday, December 29. A day later, on Wednesday, December 30, Barcelona visits FC Bayern Munich and its former swingman Nihad Dedovic.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020