Maccabi upsets Barca in OT
FC Barcelona missed the chance to seal first place after falling 99-94 in overtime to Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv in a hugely entertaining game on Tuesday night. Maccabi enjoyed the better of the first half leads and briefly held a double-digit advantage before Barca fought back to make it 39-38 at halftime. The home side stayed in front during the third quarter, but Barca refused to go away in a thrilling conclusion and forced overtime. The extra period was back and forth before free throws sealed it for Maccabi in the final seconds. Ante Zizic led Maccabi with a career-high 24 points and 8 rebounds, while Dragan Bender had 16 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 blocks. Angelo Caloiaro (12), Omri Casspi (11), Elijah Bryant, Tyler Dorsey and Scottie Wilbekin (10 apiece) also scored in double digits for the Israeli champs. Nikola Mirotic paced Barca with 23 points and 10 rebounds, while Cory Higgins poured in 20 points and Kyle Kuric and Brandon Davies both scored 12.
A triple from Caloiaro and a dunk from Bender gave Maccabi an early lead, but Mirotic got Barca moving with a corner three and a transition layup before Higgins tied it up at 7-7. Defenses got on top with no field goals for more than 3 minutes until Zizic unleashed a fierce slam and free throws extended Maccabi’s lead to 13-7. Kuric responded from deep, but Casspi scored twice and Dorsey beat the first-quarter buzzer to make it 19-14. Adam Hanga’s floater and Bender’s finish under the basket opened the second quarter, before Casspi’s triple was answered by two more driving scores from Hanga for a 26-20 Maccabi lead. A pair of layups from Caloiaro stretched the advantage to double-digits, 30-20. Kuric hit another triple, but Zizic netted twice inside to keep Maccabi ahead. Nick Calathes drove to score before feeding Higgins in transition, pulling Barca back to 34-29. Dorsey’s triple was answered by two scores apiece from Higgins and Pierre Oriola, making it 39-38 at the half.
Kuric’s triple briefly gave Barca the lead at the start of the second half, but Caloiaro, Zizic and Bender were all on target inside for Maccabi. Kuric hit a mid-range jumper to tie it, 47-47, before Wilbekin, Calathes and Bender all struck from deep as the fast scoring pace continued. Another pair of Zizic dunks kept Maccabi ahead, 57-52, but Higgins hit a three before Zizic stayed hot with two more close-range baskets. The scoring slowed before Davies and Casspi exchanged inside scores. It was 65-59 with 10 minutes left. Rolands Smits started the fourth quarter with a fierce reverse alley-oop dunk, but Dorsey and Bender responded for Maccabi. Consecutive scores from Mirotic pulled Barca to 69-67. Bryant hit back from long-range before Mirotic scored inside again and then added a three-pointer for a 72-72 tie. Davies netted twice to give Barca a slim lead and it stayed that way until Wilbekin tied it from the foul line, 76-76 with a minute to play. Zizic’s turnaround jumper sent Maccabi ahead, but Calathes drove to tie it again, 78-78, with 32 seconds on the clock. Chris Jones scored with a foul, but missed the free throw, and Higgins hit a mid-range shot with 4 seconds left to force overtime.
Wilbekin and Davies scored off the extra period’s opening possessions before Mirotic sent Barca ahead from the foul line. Davies added a put-back, but Bender’s three tied it, 86-86. Davies and Higgins converted free throws for an 86-90 Barca lead, but triples from Bryant and Dorsey made it 92-90 with a minute left. Mirotic forced another tie from the line, but Zizic battled hard for an offensive rebound and put-back to make it 94-92 with 30 seconds remaining. Higgins again rescued Barca by driving through to score, 94-94. A foot violation on Mirotic led to a technical foul shot for Wilbekin. Bryant added 2 more points from the line. Davies missed a three-point attempt to tie it and Oz Blayzer completed the job with 2 more free throws.
Career night for Zizic
Ante Zizic was close to unstoppable in the third quarter, scoring 12 points in just over 7 minutes to keep his team in front. The center finished with a career-high 24 points and a PIR of 33, beating his previous personal bests of 20 points and 28 PIR for Darussafaka Istanbul in the 2017 playoffs series against Real Madrid.
Milestone for Mirotic
Nikola Mirotic ended on the losing side, but the Barcelona forward reached a personal milestone of 2,000 points in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague. His haul of 23 points sent him to 2,006 career points achieved in 150 games at an average of 13.4 points per game.
Maccabi completes sweep over leader
Having already won a similarly exciting Round 15 game in Barcelona 67-68, Maccabi has now beaten the standings leader twice this season. Barca has lost five consecutive games in Tel Aviv, with its last win in Israel coming back in 2016.
Maccabi heads to Serbia to take on Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade on Thursday. Barca stays on the road for Round 33 with a trip to Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul on Friday.
Tuesday, March 30, 2021