Browns lead UNICS to first-ever win over Barcelona
UNICS Kazan collected its first victory in history over FC Barcelona by prevailing 70-64 at home in a defensive slugfest. Despite having its last three games postponed, UNICS saw Lorenzo Brown score 22 points with 8 assists and John Brown added 20 points and 7 steals while Mario Hezonja chipped in 11 points and 11 rebounds to move to 12-7 including 11 wins in the last 14 games. Barcelona used a 2-14 run to lead 17-24 midway through the second quarter, and the guests remained ahead until midway through the third quarter when UNICS reeled off 12 straight points to lead by six points. The hosts kept up the defensive pressure and built the lead to 10 points in the closing minutes to get the win after famously wasting a 15-point lead and losing in overtime in Spain. Barcelona for its part welcomed back Nick Calathes but did not have the services of Nikola Mirotic in dropping its third game in the last four for a 17-5 record. Cory Higgins scored 17 points and Brandon Higgins picked up 16 points but no other Barcelona players scored more than 8 points.
Nicolas Laprovittola was first to score in the game with a three-pointer after nearly 2 minutes for Barcelona. Hezonja answered at the other end with an alley-oop dunk and then John Brown scored five straight points for a 7-3 lead. Barcelona went scoreless for 3 minutes until Nigel Hayes-Davis’ three free throws. John Brown added two more scores as the lead grew to 13-8. Davies picked up a steal and layup to pull within one points before John Brown’s free throws gave UNICS a 17-14 lead after 10 minutes for 11 points.
Barcelona held UNICS scoreless for nearly 3 minutes to start the second quarter and Higgins drained two triples in a 0-10 run to go up 17-24. Lorenzo Brown ended the drought with a putback and Andrey Vorontsevich trimmed it to 24-28 with a three-point play. Laprovittola punched back with a three-pointer but Lorenzo Brown answered with six straight points to make it 30-31. Sertac Sanli ended a 3-minute scoreless stretch and Barcelona led 31-35 at the break.
Davies opened the second half for the guests with Isaiah Canaan hitting a three-pointer at the other end for his first points of the game and make it 34-37. Laprovittola converted to give Barcelona a 35-41 cushion, but UNICS continued to dictate the grinding pace. The hosts held the league’s number one scoring team scoreless for more than 5 minutes and Hezonja drained a three-pointer among his five points in a 12-0 run to pull ahead 47-41. Kyle Kuric finally got Barcelona going again with three-pointer and Higgins cut it back to one point. But Vorontsevich drained a triple and Hezonja converted a layup at the buzzer of the third quarter to lead 54-48 after 30 minutes.
Higgins started the final frame with a three-point play to trim the gap to three points. But the Barcelona offense was stalling. Lorenzo Brown hit a three-pointer and John Brown also scored as the advantage grew to nine points - 61-52. Davies threw down a dunk for Barcelona’s first basket in nearly 4 minutes only to see Lorenzo Brown’s floater pushed the cushion to double figures 66-56 with 3 minutes to play. Kuric hit a big three-pointer and Hayes-Davis scored inside but Lorenzo Brown converted two free throws with 97 seconds left to make it 68-61. And Barcelona could not muster any more of a fight.
John Brown steals his way to personal mark
John Brown came into the game as the EuroLeague’s leader in steals and he only increased his average with a new personal record. Brown swiped 7 steals for a new career high after having picked up 5 steals five times this season, including the last two games. The seven steals is also the most in the EuroLeague this season - Nando de Colo, Daniel Hackett and Nicolo Melli all had grabbed 6 steals in a game. And it’s the most steals in a game in the league since Yogev Ohayon had 8 steals on November 20, 2014 against Limoges CSP.
Calathes out of rhythm offensively in return
Despite the loss, Barcelona can be happy about the return of Nick Calathes, who played his first game since Round 10 after breaking his leg. The Greek playmaker went scoreless with five missed shots in 20:00 minutes while picking up 4 rebounds and 5 assists. Barcelona coach Sarunas Jasikevicius said he played Calathes more than he wanted to because of the struggles of Nicolas Laprovittola and Rokas Jokubaitis, who both committed 4 turnovers in the loss - Laprovittola scoring 8 points with 2 assists and Jokubaitis picking up 2 points and 1 assist.
Telling numbers: Barcelona’s offense slowed to a crawl
The biggest number was 64 - as in the number of points Barcelona scored: the fewest all season and 19.9 fewer than the team’s average as the number one scoring team in the league. Barcelona collected only 10 assists - 8.9 fewer than its league-high average - and the number one three-point shooting team at 41.3% was held to 31.8% from long range. In addition to playing good defense, UNICS also managed to shoot 58.8% on two-pointers - much higher than Barcelona’s 41.0% performance from close range.
Thursday, January 20, 2022