Barcelona blasts Besiktas, locks up home-court advantage in playoffs
Already through to the Turkish Airlines Euroleague Playoffs, FC Barcelona Regal extended its winning run to nine games with an 86-61 win over Besiktas JK Istanbul on Friday night. The win ensured Coach Xavi Pascual’s men at least a top two finish in Top 16 Group F and home-court advantage in the playoffs. The Spanish champs led from start to finish, opening the game on an 11-2 tear and outscoring Besiktas in all four quarters to cruise to a league-best 10-1 record. Nate Jawai paced Barca with 16 points, 9 rebounds and some earth-shattering slams. Erazem Lorbek added 12 points and Ante Tomic and Pete Mickeal each chipped in with 11. Cevher Ozer scored a career-high 18 points in defeat and Gasper Vidmar netted 13 for winless Besiktas.
First quarter: Lorbek helps Barcelona take comfortable early lead
Barcelona set the pace early, going 5-0 ahead and grabbing 2 rebounds in the opening minute. Lorbek was a big first quarter presence for the home side, combining with February’s MVP of the Month, Ante Tomic in the paint. Barcelona established a 17-4 lead less than halfway into the quarter, with Besiktas’s only points coming from Vidmar’s muscular dunks. Hitting shots from inside and out, Barcelona was varying its play, dominating the boards –both on offense and defense – and getting all of its players involved. Getting all of its starters on the scoresheet, Barcelona also gave first quarter cameos to the likes of Sarunas Jasikevicius, who hit a deep three-pointer to announce his arrival on court. Besiktas was only having joy through Vidmar, whose impressive slams were the bright spot of the quarter for the visitors. With 8 points of Besiktas’s 15 coming from the hands of its center, it was clear who the man to stop would be for the remainder of the night. Barcelona went into the first break with a 29-15 advantage, with Lorbek its standout through his 12 points and 3 rebounds.
Second quarter: Jawai dominates the paint for hosts
Resting Lorbek and scoring king Juan Carlos Navarro at the start of the second quarter, Barcelona used the presence of Jawai in the paint to keep the scoring and rebounding up. A trademark dunk off CJ Wallace’s hand-off got Jawai hot, and he was a key man on the defensive boards. After Wallace hit a triple, Jawai again put down a highlight reel slam and Besiktas called a timeout. The opposition decided to go outside, and Ozer traded three-pointers with Barcelona’s Victor Sada as the advantage increased to 39-20 midway through the quarter. Players like Xavier Rabaseda and Alex Abrines were introduced to keep Barcelona fresh, as the local side looked to manage and extend the advantage. While Besiktas maintained its strategy of shooting frequently from downtown, Abrines hit a three-pointer of his own for Barcelona and the difference between the two teams teetered on the 20-point mark. After Besiktas 2 two free throws and Abrines missed his second attempt from beyond the arc, the first half concluded with Barcelona in front 47-31.
Third quarter: Barcelona gets everybody on the score sheet
Jawai, Lorbek and Navarro were put back onto the floor for the start of the third quarter, and the former added another dunk to his collection for the night with the half barely underway. The reappearance of Mickeal also had an impact for Barcelona, as he combined with the hard working Marcelinho Huertas to make it a 20-point game. Besiktas fired back through Vidmar’s inside shot and Ricky Minard’s bucket from beyond the arc, but could not string together consecutive field goals with regularity. The visitors did pull the deficit back to 13 points, until Barcelona introduced a new scorer to the game in Marko Todorovic. He announced his arrival with a three-pointer, before teammate Mickeal got into another streak –one that put him into double-digits and Barcelona 63-47 ahead. Every player on the Barcelona roster for the night had scored points, but Besiktas’s duo of Vidmar and Ozer were taking the scoring responsibility for the visiting team on their shoulders. The 67-50 disparity at the end of the third quarter was not insurmountable, but Barça was firmly in the driving seat.
Fourth quarter: Barca cruises to victory in style
Besiktas stayed true to its outside shooting strategy, and found success early in the fourth quarter through Patrick Christopher. Barcelona’s guards doubled up on Besiktas’s most dangerous players when they had the ball on the perimeter, and forced a series of turnovers. Shots from three-point land from Can Firket Akin and Barcelona’s Marcelinho showed the equality present beyond the arc, while inside the reintroduction of Jawai allowed Barcelona to power on through to the final buzzer, as he moved into double-digits on scoring and pulled down his ninth rebound. Late, deep triples were the only option for Besiktas, but even when successful, Barcelona was able to respond in kind. The game ended 86-61 to the home team, who continue a formidable winning streak.
Friday, March 15, 2013
Duncan Bishop, Barcelona