Barcelona outlasts champs, clinches playoffs berth
FC Barcelona Regal became the first team to clinch a spot in the 2012-13 Turkish Airlines Euroleague Playoffs by topping reigning champions Olympiacos Piraeus 77-90 at the Peace and Friendship Stadium in Greece on Thursday. Barcelona improved to 9-1 in Top 16 Group F and will lock up home court advantage in the playoffs with its next win. Olympiacos dropped to 6-4. Barcelona grabbed its eighth consecutive triumph and stopped the Reds' five-game winning streak. Erazem Lorbek paced the winners with 21 points on near-perfect shooting. Pete Mickeal added 20, while Ante Tomic and Juan Carlos Navarro each scored 10 for Barcelona. Vassilis Spanoulis led Olympiacos with 23 points. Georgios Printezis added 16 and Josh Powell had 15 for the Reds. The first quarter featured six lead changes, but an outstanding Printezis gave Olympiacos a 20-17 lead after 10 minutes. A dunk by Pero Antic soon boosted the Reds' lead to 26-22. Five different Barcelona players scored in a 4-17 run that put the visitors ahead 30-39. Navarro followed a three-point play with a 'bomba' to make it a double-digit game, 36-46, at halftime. Printezis and an unstoppable Spanoulis shined after the break as Olympiacos regained the lead, 55-54, late in the third quarter. Mickeal and Nate Jawai helped Barcelona to a 62-63 edge after three quarters. Mickeal and Lorbek took over early in the fourth quarter, as Barcelona grabbed a 69-78 lead and never looked back.
First quarter: Olympiacos ahead after six lead changes
Powell got Olympiacos going with a close basket, which Victor Sada erased with a five-meter jumper. Ante Tomic finished a long, two-chance Barcelona offense with a jump hook, good for a 2-4 lead. Mickeal and Powell traded layups and a coast-to-coast basket by Spanoulis tied it at 6-6. Spanoulis collected a steal and made free throws at the other end. Mickeal answered with foul shots and a driving layup by Juan Carlos Navarro put the guests back ahead, 8-10. Printezis did not miss from the free throw line and a fast break layup by Acie Law restored a 12-10 Olympiacos lead. Mickeal made a turnaround jumper and soon provided another lead change, 12-14. Printezis hit his trademark turnaround jumper and Spanoulis scored in penetration for a 16-14 Olympiacos edge. Mickeal hit a one-handed jumper in the lane that Printezis matched with foul shots. Printezis stayed on fire with a jump hook to put Olympiacos ahead 20-17 after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: 4-17 run puts Barcelona way ahead
Kostas Sloukas hit a stop-and-pop jumper, as Barcelona struggled to score early in the second quarter. Tomic stepped up with a jump hook that Pero Antic matched with a long two-pointer. C.J. Wallace struck from downtown, but a dunk by Antic made it a four-point game, 26-22. Erazem Lorbek scored around the basket and a floating layup by Tomic tied it at 26-26. Olympiacos could not find open shots and a three-point play by Sarunas Jasikevicius put the guests back ahead, 26-29, after a 0-7 run. Law and Tomic exchanged layups before an off-balance basket by Powell kept the Reds within 30-31. Huertas and Lorbek buried back-to-back three-pointers to boost Barcelona's lead to 30-37. Joe Ingles capped a 0-8 run with a backdoor layup, Powell dunked and free throws by Spanoulis brought Olympiacos a bit closer, 34-39. Lorbek scored in the paint and Navarro provided a highlight with a wild three-point play off a steal for a double-digit Barcelona lead, 34-44. Spanoulis swished a six-meter jumper and a 'bomba' by Navarro fixed the score at 36-46 at halftime.
Third quarter: Spanoulis fuels the Reds' rally
Lorbek downed a turnaround jumper immediately after the break, as Olympiacos was held scoreless for almost two minutes until Law shined with a driving layup. Barcelona started to use longer possessions, but even with that, the guests did not find open shots, as the Reds were all over the passing lines. Powell hit a five-meter jumper and followed that with a three-point play that brought Olympiacos back in the game, 43-48. Printezis capped a 9-0 Olympiacos run with a jump hook. Navarro split free throws before Spanoulis nailed a jumper that Wallace bettered with a three-pointer. Printezis took over with a layup-plus-foul, Jawai and Doron Perkins traded foul shots and a three-pointer by Spanoulis completed the hosts' comeback, 55-54. Navarro sank free throws, Kyle Hines and Mickeal exchanged dunks and a three-point play by Spanoulis gave Olympiacos a 60-58 lead. Lorbek and Jawai split foul shots and Spanoulis put Olympiacos back ahead, 62-60. Mickeal took over with a backdoor layup and a free throw by Jawai restored a 62-63 Barcelona edge after 30 minutes.
Fourth quarter: Barcelona takes off, seals playoffs spot
Mickeal sank a turnaround jumper early in the fourth quarter and a jump hook by Lorbek gave Barcelona some fresh air, 62-67. Antic and Lorbek traded three-pointers, but Barcelona faced severe foul trouble, as Tomic, Jawai and Wallace had 4 apiece with eight minutes left. Mickeal scored again and erased Spanoulis's downed a stop-and-pop jumper with a four-meter shot, which caused Olympiacos to call timeout at 67-74. Jawai provided a highlight with a big slam, Hines scored in penetration and Lorbek added a jump hook after a wild spin move for a 69-78 Barcelona edge midway through the fourth quarter. Stratos Perperoglou hit a six-meter jumper, but Lorbek scored again and an alley-oop slam by Tomic boosted Barcelona's lead to 71-82 with three minutes to go. An unsportsmanlike foul on Powell allowed Huertas and Jasikevicius to seal the outcome, 71-87. The Reds never recovered and Barcelona had plenty of time to celebrate.
Thursday, March 7, 2013