Barcelona bounces back against Valencia
FC Barcelona snapped its three-game losing streak by beating Valencia Basket 89-72 at Palau Blaugrana on Thursday. Barcelona improved to 12-6 in the standings, while Valencia dropped to 10-8. Alex Abrines led the winners with 16 points, Cory Higgins and Adam Hanga each scored 13 and Rolands Smits and Sergi Martinez got 10 apiece for Barcelona. Louis Labeyrie paced Valencia with 17 points, Mike Tobey posted 14 points and 10 rebounds and Joan Sastre had 13 points for the visitors. Barcelona led 18-12 after 10 minutes and extended it to 32-16 soon after that. Labeyrie, Nikola Kalinic and Tobey rallied Valencia to within 38-33 at halftime. Smits and Pierre Oriola helped Barcelona restore a 67-54 margin after 30 minutes and the hosts never looked back.
Higgins got Barcelona going with a floater, but Sastre followed a layup with a triple in a 0-7 run that Tobey capped with a backdoor basket. Higgins dunked off a steal and fed Hanga for a three-pointer. Higgins followed a three-pointer with a layup and got help from Smits, Martinez and Leo Westermann for an 18-10 Barcelona lead, which Martin Hermannsson cut to 18-12 after 10 minutes. Hermannsson and Labeyrie brought Valencia a bit closer, 20-16, early in the second quarter. It didn't last long, however, as Martinez scored twice around the basket and Abrines nailed back-to-back three-pointers in a 12-0 run highlighted by Hanga's dunk. Labeyrie sank consecutive triples, but so did Hanga for a 38-22 score. Labeyrie insisted from beyond the arc and Tobey added a dunk-and-foul in a 0-11 run which Prepelic capped with a buzzer-beating layup off a great inbound play to bring Valencia within 38-33 at halftime.
Kalinic followed a put-back basket with a driving layup soon after the break, but Nick Calathes made it 43-37. Derrick Williams erased Pierre Oriola's layup with a huge alley-oop dunk, but Higgins hit a jumper for a 47-39 score. Smits and Oriola soon allowed the hosts to restore a double-digit margin, 52-41. Sastre downed a floater and fed Labeyrie for a jumper, but Smits kept Barcelona fully in charge, 60-47. Sam Van Rossom and Sastre each hit a three-pointer. Oriola and Abrines boosted the hosts' margin to 67-54 after 30 minutes. Abrines and Oriola kept pushing Barcelona early in the fourth quarter and Martinez added a layup that broke the game open, 72-54. Abrines downed a three-pointer and Higgins scored again, but Prepelic brought Valencia within 77-63 with 6 minutes left. Valencia never gave up but Barcelona was on its way to a well-deserved win.
Nick Calathes had a strong all-around performance and just missed a triple-double. He finished the game with 8 points, 7 rebounds - all on the defensive end - and 7 assists, also drawing 3 fouls for a PIR of 15.
Barcelona found its rhythm early in the second quarter, turning defensive stops into easy baskets. Sergi Martinez scored twice down low, Alex Abrines buried consecutive three-pointers and Adam Hanga found space for an uncontested dunk. All of a sudden, Barcelona led 32-16 and even though Valencia returned to the game, the hosts never trailed after that.
Barcelona committed only 6 turnovers - a season-low and the club's lowest number since October 2018. Valencia had twice as many, finishing the game with 12 turnovers. Barcelona made 11 of 19 three-point shots (57.9%) and Valencia buried 10 of 25 (40.0%).
Did you know?
Barcelona remains undefeated against Valencia at Palau Blaugrana in EuroLeague action - three victories in as many games. Barcelona is now 5-1 against Valencia in Europe's marquee competition. Valencia's only win, 81-76, came at La Fonenta on January 16, 2018. Bojan Dubljevic, who missed the game tonight, led the way in that game with 19 points.
Both teams return to EuroLeague action early next week - on Tuesday, January 12. Barcelona visits Khimki Moscow Region in a tactical battle between Lithuanian legends Rimas Kurtinaitis and Sarunas Jasikevicius. Valencia visits AX Armani Exchange Milan.
Thursday, January 7, 2021