Rusty Harrison came through late

Dec 09, 2020 by Print
Rusty Harrison came through late

"We had contributions from a lot of players and that's why we won today. It was a team effort and I would like to congratulate my players," Coach Georgios Bartzokas summed up after his team upset league-leading FC Barcelona 88-96.

Indeed, the list of top performers is long. Hassan Martin set or matched his personal bests in nearly all major categories with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 2 blocks. Kostas Sloukas recorded his second double-double of the season. Shaquielle McKissic knocked down a pair of fourth-quarter three-pointers en route to a season-high 16 points. Kostas Papanikolaou was perfect on three attempts from behind the etc. And so on…

However, the most surprising contribution may have come from shooting guard Aaron Harrison, who returned to the floor after more than a month away recovering from an injury. Harrison's rust showed as he contributed just a foul and a turnover in 8:20 second-quarter minutes. He came back for the final 20 seconds of the third quarter and would not see the bench again.

Though it took Harrison a while to get going, over the game's final minutes there was no one better. He ran the break for a basket-plus-foul that put Olympiacos up 77-82 with 4:12 remaining.

After Barcelona closed the gap to 82-84 and had the ball with Alex Abrines eyeing a potential go-ahead triple with 2 and a half minutes to play, Harrison poked the ball loose, grabbed it and was fouled from behind – an unsportsmanlike foul – after which he made 2 free throws.

Harrison was not done yet as Barcelona continued to challenge and less than a minute later he drew an unsportsmanlike foul from Nick Calathes. On the hosts' next possession, Harrison was forced into a mismatch on Brandon Davies, but again came through by slapping the ball away into the hands of Sasha Vezenkov for a key steal that led to a Kostas Sloukas jumper and helped seal the victory.

It was not a perfect game since Harrison missed a pair of free throws with 23 seconds left that could have iced the game, but considering that he saw his first game action since early November and the player best-known for his scoring prowess made a major impact through defense, Harrison deserves to be saluted.