Barcelona thrashes Zalgiris at home
FC Barcelona remained atop the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season standings after beating Zalgiris Kaunas 86-62 at Palau Blaugrana on Thursday. Barcelona improved to 18-7 and registered its seventh win in the last eight games. Zalgiris dropped to 13-11. Cory Higgins and Pierre Oriola paced the winners with 19 points apiece, Brandon Davies scored 12 against his former team and Nikola Mirotic had 10 for Barcelona. Nigel Hayes led Zalgiris with 9 points. Higgins and Mirotic helped Barcelona to a 39-30 lead late in the first half. The hosts boosted their margin to 48-37 at halftime and then again to 71-47 at the end of the third quarter as it cruised to a well-deserved win.
Hayes and Thomas Walkup each hit a triple and Joffrey Lauvergne added a floater for an early 7-8 Zalgiris lead. Arturas Milaknis followed a layup with a three-pointer, but Mirotic and Oriola gave Barcelona a 14-13 edge. Higgins took over with a coast-to-coast layup and a dunk, but Milaknis struck again from downtown and Martinas Geben dunked to tie the score, 20-20. After Higgins hit a mid-range jumper, Marius Grigonis and Augustine Rubit gace Zalgiris a 22-24 edge. Davies scored down low to tie it again, 24-24, after 10 minutes. Leo Bolmaro found his first points early in the second quarter and Kyle Kuric capped a 7-0 run with a triple. Davies swished a jumper, but Hayes brought the visitors within 31-28. Rolands Smits stepped up with a tip-in, Mirotic added a put-back basket, Higgins erased Grigonis's floater with a driving layup and Nick Calathes prompted Zalgiris to call timeout at 39-30. Grigonis and Lauvergne stepped up for Zalgiris, but Alex Abrines struck from beyond the arc and Higgins added a jumper for a 46-34 Barcelona lead. Paulius Jankunas took over with a three-point play but Higgins scored again to fix the halftime score at 48-37.
Mirotic buried a corner triple right after the break and fed Oriola for a layup that caused Zalgiris to stop the game at 53-37. Calathes scored in penetration, Smits added a layup and Davies hit a couple of jumpers that broke the game open, 61-41. Davies got help from Adam Hanga and Bolmaro to boost the lead to 71-47 after 30 minutes. Oriola hit back-to-back jumpers early in the fourth quarter and soon added a floater that sealed the outcome, 77-49, with over 7 minutes left. Oriola and Bolmaro kept pushing Barcelona and even though Zalgiris never gave up, the hosts stayed out of trouble until the final buzzer.
Barcelona captain Pierre Oriola had strong contributions at both ends of the floor with his trademark character and intensity. He finished the game with a career-high 19 points on 7-of-8 two-point shooting, 1-of-2 on three-pointers, 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 2 blocks for a PIR of 27, also a personal best.
Augustine Rubit scored around the basket to give Zalgiris its last lead, 22-24. Brandon Davies beat the first-quarter buzzer with a layup, Leo Bolmaro hit a pair of free throws and Kyle Kuric fired in a three-pointer to put Barcelona ahead for good, 31-24. The hosts used that momentum to improve their defense and dominate the game.
Two-point shots and turnovers made the difference in this game. Barcelona hit 30 of 44 shots inside the arc (68.2%) and committed just 11 turnovers. Zalgiris made 18 of 37 two-point shots (48.6%) and finished the game with 20 turnovers, matching its season-high.
Did you know?
Paulius Jankunas climbed to second place in the EuroLeague's all-time PIR table. Jankunas, who had a PIR of 7, has amassed a PIR of 3,893 during his 18-year EuroLeague career and went past Juan Carlos Navarro, who now ranks third at 3,980. Vassilis Spanoulis leads the all-time PIR standings at 4,129.
Both teams return to EuroLeague action next week. Zalgiris visits Real Madrid on Thursday, February 25. The following day, Barcelona hosts LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne.
Thursday, February 18, 2021