Barcelona still perfect after home escape against EA7 Milan
FC Barcelona came back from a 14-point deficit to barely fend off EA7 Emporio Armani Milan 84-80 and remain undefeated in Group C of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague. Ante Tomic scored 18 points while Mario Hezonja had 13 points for Barcelona, which tops the group at 7-0. Alex Abrines added 11 points, Brad Oleson scored 10 and Justin Doellman chipped in 6 points and 9 rebounds for the winners. There were seven lead changes in the final 2:46 minutes of the game, topped off by the hosts scoring the final 5 points. Milan dropped to 2-5 in the group despite 21 points from Daniel Hackett, 16 from Samardo Samuels and 11 points by MarShon Brooks.
1st quarter: Barcelona scores just one basket in final 4:41 of quarter
Barca boss Xavi Pascual swapped one player in his starting line-up with DeShaun Thomas coming on for Hezonja alongside Marcelinho Heurtas, Juan Carlos Navarro, Doellman and Tomic. Milan coach Luca Banchi was without injured star Alessandro Gentile and made three other changes with Samuels the only player to start last week as well. The other starters in Spain were Brooks, Hackett, Nicolo Melli and Shawn James. Tomic got the scoreboard going with a lefty dunk after missing his first two shots. Brooks dunked at the other end for Milan’s first basket. Tomic continued to be the focal point with two free throws and an inside score and Doellman’s steal and dunk pushed the lead to 8-4. After Hackett trimmed it to one with a three-ball, Thomas hit near the basket and Doellman was the beneficiary of some classy passing, finishing the break with a dunk for a 12-7 lead and a time out by Banchi. The Milan coach ordered his men to play tougher defense and they did just that, while still playing solid on offense. Brooks put back an offensive rebound, which was followed by Heurtas’ jumper after an offensive rebound. That turned out to be Barcelona’s only basket in the final 4:41 minutes of the first quarter. James got a tip-in and Melli made two foul shots to pull within 14-13. Oleson came on and made two free throws to push the margin back to three points, but Ragland hit a driving layup and Hackett nailed a jumper to give the guests the lead for the first time at 16-17. And Ragland’s two foul shots left Milan up 16-19 after one quarter.
2nd quarter: Milan grab control with 0-15 run spanning quarters
Nothing changed at the start of the second quarter as Hackett drained a three from the right corner and Bruno Cerella converted a three-point play before Samuels hit a three-pointer as well for a 16-28 lead, completing an 0-9 start to the quarter and an 0-15 run spanning the periods. Hezonja ended the seven-minute basket-less stretch with a jumper only to see Trenton Meacham come off the guests’ bench for a steal and fast break layup and two Linas Kleiza free throws increased the lead to 18-32. Hezonja cut the deficit to 10 points with a three-pointer but two Samuels baskets made it 22-36. Pascual brought back on Tomic and the big man teamed with Hezonja to get Barcelona back into the game. Tomic sandwiched baskets around a Heurtas three to trim it to 29-36. Hezonja hit a free throw and then threw down a vicious dunk to stay close. Milan still led 32-42 after James’ basket, but Tomas Satoransky made two free throws and Abrines converted a tough layup after a steal as Barcelona worked itself back to within 36-42 at intermission.
3rd quarter: Satornasky and Oleson lead 11-2 surge to end third quarter
Hackett started the second half with a three ball, which Thomas answered right back with a long ball of his own and then a lefty layup off the glass to get Barcelona as close as 41-45. Brooks however punched right back with a trey and Samuels and Hackett added scores before a Ragland layup had the lead back up to 43-54. Satoransky showed just how explosive he can be with a three-pointer and then a tough layup and bonus as the gap was down to 49-54. Brooks stepped up for a jumper but Oleson nailed two triples to finally get Barcelona back ahead 57-56 as the hosts closed the third quarter on an 11-2 surge.
4th quarter: Seven lead changes in final 2:46 minutes
Cerella put the guests back ahead to start the fourth with a three-pointer and Tomic knotted it again at 59-59. Barcelona took advantage of a flopping technical against Melli with an Oleson free throw and Hezonja three on the ensuing possession for a 63-59 lead. Melli came right back down and nailed a three-pointer and then blocked Doellman before a Hackett three put Milan back ahead 63-65. Tomic and Hezonja both made two free throws to keep it even before Melli knocked down another triple from the same spot in the left corner for a 67-70 lead. But Barcelona answered right back as Abrines nailed a triple to even the game at 70-70 with four minutes to play. Hackett’s free throw after a Hezonja technical made it 72-73 but Abrines buried another straight on three-pointer for a 75-73 lead inside three minutes to play. Samuels punished Barca for leaving him open beyond the stripe, draining a trey for a 75-76 lead. The lead changed hand four more times when Hackett’s layup gave Milan its final lead 79-80. Abrines came back with a layup at the other end. The game was essentially decided when Melli was hit with an unsportsmanlike foul with 7.7 seconds with Abrines splitting free throws and Doellman hitting both of his with 6.5 seconds to make sure.
Friday, November 28, 2014