Barcelona rallies past Bayern
In one of the season's most impressive comebacks, FC Barcelona grabbed its ninth consecutive win by edging FC Bayern Munich 83-80 at Palau Blaugrana on Friday. Barcelona, which has already qualified for the playoffs, improved to 22-6 in the standings while Bayern dropped to 8-20. Barcelona trailed 69-77 with under 4 minutes left, but Nikola Mirotic and Pierre Oriola led a 12-0 run that sealed the outcome in unbelievable fashion. Mirotic led the winners with 28 points. Cory Higgins added 16 and Kyle Kuric 13 for Barcelona. Greg Monroe led Bayern with 19 points. Maodo Lo added 14, Vladimir Lucic 12 and Zan Sisko 10. Lo, Danilo Barthel, T.J. Bray and Paul Zipser each hit a triple in the first quarter before Mirotic and Malcolm Delaney let Barcelona tie it up 21-21 after 10 minutes. Monroe stepped up in the second quarter, getting help from Sisko and Lucic to give Bayern a 30-36 lead, although Higgins and Alex Abrines fueled a 10-0 run as Barcelona went back in front by 42-41 at halftime. Monroe and Lucic sparked a 0-14 run that took Bayern to a double-digit lead, 57-68, after 30 minutes. Everything seemed to be in Bayern's favor until Mirotic and Oriola combined for 11 points down the stretch as Barcelona won in come-from-behind fashion!
Monroe got Bayern going with a layup and a tip-in to give the guests a 3-4 edge. Both teams started to pull the trigger from downtown, as Lo, Barthel and Higgins each hit a triple while Mirotic struck twice from deep for a 12-10 score. As Mirotic kept pacing Barcelona, Adam Hanga scored an alley-oop layup while Bray and Lucic kept Bayern within 17-14. Delaney fed Victor Claver for an alley-oop slam before Sisko and Zipser helped the guests forge a 21-21 tie after 10 minutes. Mathias Lessort and Diego Flaccadori stepped up for Bayern then, Brandon Davies answered twice at 26-26. Monroe scored inside and out as Bayern led 26-30. Soon, Lucic joined the three-point shooters and Monroe scored again in the low post to make it 30-36. Barcelona found its rhythm as Abrines buried a triple and Higgins added 5 points in a 10-0 run that put the hosts ahead, 40-36. Sisko downed a three-pointer and matched Higgins layup for layup to keep Bayern within 42-41 at halftime. Sisko and Lo each hit from downtown after the break and Danilo Barthel dunked for a 44-49 Bayern lead. Lo went coast-to-coast, Monroe downed a jumper and Lucic converted a four-point play as Bayern surged in front by 48-57. Barcelona could not stop Monroe, who scored twice to cap a 0-14 run that made it 48-65. Mirotic and Delaney then a 7-0 response that gave Barcelona hope, but Zipser and Lessort kept the visitors in charge at 57-68 through 30 minutes. Despite a triple by Kuric early in the fourth quarter, Monroe and Lo sent Bayern up 60-73 with more than 7 minutes left. But here came Barcelona. Mirotic sank a three-pointer, a red-hot Kuric added a four-point play, and Higgins hit a jumper to give the hosts hope at 69-74. Lo silenced the crowd with a big three-point shot but Mirotic answered with back-to-back triples to bring Barcelona back to within 75-77 with 2 minutes to go. Pierre Oriola also struck from downtown to complete the hosts' comeback, 78-77, with 1:01 left. Bayern kept struggling to score and Mirotic hit free throws for an 80-77 score with 12.5 seconds left. The hosts fouled Lo, who missed both attempts, allowing Tomic to seal the outcome at the other end.
Mirotic had yet another really solid performance, delivering in crunch time to lead Barcelona to another win. He finished the game with 28 points on 5-of-9 three-point and 11-of-12 free-throw accuracy. He added 8 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal and 10 fouls drawn for a PIR of 37, tying his career high. He previously had a PIR of 37 with Real Madrid against Zalgiris Kaunas on March 7, 2013.
Bayern led 69-77 with more than 3 minutes left and the game seemed all but over until Barcelona improved its defense, shutting down the guests. Meanwhile, Mirotic struck twice from downtown and Oriola added the go-ahead three-pointer, 78-77, with 1:01 to go. Mirotic made free throws and Tomic split attempts to cap a 12-0 run. By the time Lucic buried a running triple, it was too little, too late for the German powerhouse.
Free throw accuracy was the deciding factor of the game. Barcelona hit 26-of-32 free throw attempts (81.3%) and Bayern only downed 12-of-21 (57.1%). Barcelona had more assists (17-15) and fewer turnovers (12-14) than its opponents, which is important when the game goes down to the final seconds.
Did you notice?
A moment of silence was kept before the game to honor the late Euroleague Basketball employee Selver Dzigal, who passed away at age 36 three weeks ago. Ironically, the EuroLeague calendar he helped build did not allow Barcelona, the club he once suited up for in the junior ranks, to play at home until now. His step-father Sebastia Mayol was presented with a jersey with Selver's name in a brief ceremony in the VIP room that included his former coaches and Euroleague Basketball employees. May he rest in peace.
Both teams return to EuroLeague action next week on Friday, March 13. Barcelona hosts Zalgiris Kaunas at 21:00 CET. Zalgiris head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius, who won the first of four EuroLeague titles as a player with Barcelona in 2003, will receive a standing ovation, for sure. Bayern visits Khimki, featuring its former players Devin Booker and Stefan Jovic, at 18:00 CET.
Friday, March 6, 2020