Barcelona edged Olympiacos in OT to stay undefeated
FC Barcelona remained perfect on the season after surviving a battle with Olympiacos Piraeus, winning 79-78 at home in overtime. Nikola Mirotic scored 22 points and Pierre Oriola buried 2 free throws with 7.6 seconds left in the extra session to help Barcelona improve to 3-0. Cory Higgins added 11 points, Brandon Davies picked up 10 points and Nick Calathes flirted with a triple-double with 9 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists. Olympiacos dropped its first game of the season despite five players scoring in double figures. Kostas Sloukas had 14 points, Tyler Dorsey and Sasha Vezenkov both scored 12, Moustapha Fall tallied 11 points and 8 rebounds and Shaquielle McKissic netted 10 points in the loss.
Vezenkov opened the scoring for the guests and Calathes’s layup was Barcelona’s first score. Olympiacos built the first clear lead with a Dorsey four-point play followed by Sloukas’s three-pointer for a 6-13 advantage. The Olympiacos defense was working in holding Barcelona in check, and Sloukas added a layup to put the Reds up 10-17 after 10 minutes.
After Calathes started the scoring in the second quarter, McKissic’s tough layup increased the gap to 12-20. Barcelona managed to slow the visitors for nearly 4 minutes and Davies scored 4 points in a 6-0 spurt to make it 18-20. Livio Jean-Charles stopped the rut with a three-point play and Vezenkov nailed a triple to make it 25-32. The score was 27-32 at the break.
After Barcelona missed all 12 of its three-point attempts in the first half, Kyle Kuric drained a triple to start the second half. Mirotic followed immediately with a three-pointer of his own to spark the offense with two more scores in a 14-2 run to open a 41-34 cushion. Mirotic picked up just 1 point in the first 20 minutes, but was up to 12 points in helping push the margin to 47-38. Olympiacos punched back with a Dorsey three-pointer and three-point plays from Sloukas and Fall to pull within 49-47. Barcelona answered right back with back-to-back three-pointers by Higgins and Nicolas Laprovittola for a 55-47 lead after 30 minutes.
Oriola drained a three-pointer for the hosts and the advantage was up to 58-49. Olympiacos’s defense managed to shut down Barcelona and Giannoulis Larentzakis hit a buzzer-beating three-pointer to start a 0-7 spurt to cut the deficit to 2 points. Larentzakis knocked down another triple and the game was tied 61-61 with under 3 minutes left. A Mirotic layup and 2 free throws were matched by McKissic foul shots and a Sloukas floater to even it 65-65 with 94 seconds to play. Olympiacos was able to pull ahead on a fast break hook-up between McKissic and Vezenkov only to see Kuric calmly answer with 2 foul shots with 33 seconds remaining to knot it up again. Sloukas and Higgins both missed shots to win the game, and the teams went to overtime.
Olympiacos struck first in the extra session through McKissic before Mirotic hit a jumper and 2 free throws for a 75-70 lead. McKissic scored over Mirotic and Dorsey added 4 free throws as Olympiacos went ahead 77-78 with 22 seconds left. Higgins missed his shot, but Fall fouled Oriola with 7.6 seconds remaining and he buried both free throws to put Barcelona back ahead. The hosts ended up victorious when Sloukas missed his final attempt.
Pivotal performer: Mirotic shines after halftime
Nikola Mirotic was a non-factor in the first half against Olympiacos Piraeus with just one point, but the FC Barcelona star proved his value in the second half and overtime. He finished with 22 points - including 9-of-10 shooting on free throws. Mirotic also grabbed 6 rebounds to go along with 2 assists, 1 steal and 1 block for an index rating of 24. The most important thing though was him leading Barcelona to the victory, showing the hustle by collecting three of Barcelona’s 12 offensive rebounds.
Olympiacos plays well enough to win
Olympiacos Piraeus head coach Georgios Bartzokas was disappointed his team had not been rewarded for a strong effort against a good FC Barcelona team. And the Greek team once again came up with a balanced showing - coming up just short of moving to 3-0. Five players scored in double figures - including Kostas Sloukas and Shaquielle McKissic off the bench. Those two as well as Sasha Vezenkov, Moustapha Fall and Tyler Dorsey all have been solid through three games. Thomas Walkup meanwhile scored 6 points in the game - 2 points more than he tallied in the first two games. Getting the guard better incorporated into the offense will only make Olympiacos that much tougher.
Telling numbers: The momentum change of the third quarter
FC Barcelona had a nightmare first half from long range against Olympiacos Piraeus, shooting 0-for-12 on three-pointers in the first 20 minutes and only recording 5 assists. The Spanish powerhouse came out on strong in the third quarter, hitting 4-of-5 triple attempts and dishing out 6 assists in scoring 30 points - 3 more than Barcelona had scored in the first half. That gave Barcelona its confidence again on offense and the team did just enough to prevail, converting on 47.6 percent of its two-pointers compared to 44.2% for Olympiacos.
Wednesday, October 13, 2021