Efes holds on to win in Barcelona
Anadolu Efes Istanbul became the first team to defeat FC Barcelona twice this season after recording an 86-88 victory on Thursday night at Palau Blaugrana. The visitors led by as many as 13 in the fourth quarter before surviving a late Barcelona push to improve to 13-10 on the season. It was Efes's fifth win in its last six games. Vasilije Micic paced the winners with 26 points and 5 assists, Shane Larkin tallied 19 points and 3 steals, Chris Singleton added 13 points and 4 steals and Sertac Sanli posted 12 points and 8 rebounds. Nikola Mirotic scored 24 points to lead Barcelona, which saw its league-best record slip to 17-7. Brandon Davies added 14 points and 7 rebounds and Cory Higgins contributed 12 points.
Micic scored twice as Efes jumped out to a 2-7 start. Mirotic scored Barcelona's first 8 points to keep the hosts close. Sanli's second basket pushed Efes ahead 10-15 and Rodrigue Beaubois's jumper made it 13-19. Adam Hanga scored a jumper and a three to trim the deficit, but Efes responded through Beaubois, whose three extended the Efes advantage to 18-25 and prompted a Barcelona timeout. Higgins free throws made it 22-27 after 10 minutes. Kyle Kuric drained a three to start the second-quarter scoring, but Efes pulled away again with threes by Larkin and Singleton stretching the margin to 28-36. Singleton added free throws and a three-pointer for the game's first double-digit margin, 34-44. A three by Nick Calathes and free throws by Davies carried Barcelona to within 6. The Barcelona big man banked in a three on the halftime buzzer to make it 50-53.
Davies scored first in the second half to get Barcelona within 1. Larkin connected from deep for the visitors, but the Efes guard was called for a technical foul and a Mirotic jumper tied it at 58-58. Krunoslav Simon fed Sanli for a slam and scored the next 4 points as Efes regained control. Larkin capped a 0-9 run with a three-point play. Free throws by Micic restored a double-digit lead for Efes at 61-71. Higgins free throws made it 65-72 through three quarters. Baskets by Micic and Sanli had Barcelona on the ropes. The hosts needed nearly 5 minutes to get their first points of the fourth quarter through a Pierre Oriola put-back. However, a four-point play by Larkin extended the margin to 67-80. Efes moved into clock-killing mode and was able to burn a minute through 2 offensive rebounds before Adrien Moerman made it 73-84 with 2 and a half minutes to go. A three by Higgins and free throws by Davies got Barcelona within 6 with 1:20 remaining. A three by Leo Westermann made it 84-86 with 17 seconds left. Micic sank 2 free throws with 15.2 seconds on the clock and Barcelona's comeback ran out of time.
Vasilije Micic played all but 4 minutes to lead Efes with 26 points. He made 7 of 9 two-pointers, made a career-high 9 free throws and set a personal best with 12 free throws attempted. Micic added 3 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals in accumulating a PIR of 30. Micic scored 6 points in the fourth quarter, including Efes's last 4 points – all from the free-throw line.
In a game ultimately decided by 2 points, Barcelona's 18 turnovers were an own-goal, especially when compared to Efes's 6 lost balls. Efes scored 17 points off turnovers, compared to 2 for Barcelona.
A milestone for Dunston
Efes center Bryant Dunston climbed into eighth place on the career EuroLeague charts in offensive rebounding. His 2 offensive rebounds in the second quarter lifted his all-time tally to 440 and took him past Ioannis Bourousis. The climb from here will be tougher as the next three players ahead of him are all active; Jan Vesely of Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul is seventh (461), Othello Hunter of Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv is sixth (463) and CSKA Moscow's injured center Nikola Milutinov is fifth (464).
After a one-week break due to national cup competitions, both teams return to action in Round 25 on Thursday, February 18. Efes hosts Olympiacos Piraeus, while Barcelona takes on Zalgiris Kaunas.
Thursday, February 4, 2021