Barcelona stops Madrid on Navarro's special night
FC Barcelona Lassa recorded its fourth consecutive win by downing archrival Real Madrid 77-70 in an emotional night at Palau Blaugrana that started with legend Juan Carlos Navarro's jersey retirement ceremony. Barcelona improved to a 15-9 record to strengthen its fifth-place standing. Madrid dropped to 18-6 and remains third overall. Ante Tomic led the winners with 22 points and 13 rebounds. Thomas Heurtel added 17 points and 10 assists while Kyle Kuric had 15 points for Barcelona. Rudy Fernandez led Madrid with 15 points. Anthony Randolph added 12 while Jaycee Carroll had 10 for the guests. Madrid led 16-17 after 10 minutes but Kuric and Tomic gave Barcelona a 42-37 margin at halftime. Barcelona scored the first 8 points after the break, too, and never looked back, keeping full control of the game until the final buzzer.
Randolph got Madrid going with a three-pointer and then free throws by Gabriel Deck gave the visitors a 0-5 lead. Heurtel stepped up with a triple, a jumper and a floater to seize the upper hand for Barcelona, 7-5. Edy Tavares scored down low, Randolph added a fastbreak layup, and Fabien Causeur hit a floater as Madrid took the lead back at 8-11. Pau Ribas buried a running floater and Kevin Seraphin added a jump hook, but a dunk by Gustavo Ayon tied it at 13-13. Kevin Pangos and Ribas hit free throws but back-to-back baskets by Carroll put Madrid in charge, 16-17, after 10 minutes. Carroll and Fernandez each struck from beyond the arc in a 0-8 run that put Madrid up 18-25 early in the second quarter. Although Tomic hit a jump hook, Carroll and Fernandez boosted the guests' lead to 21-29. Tomic rescued Barcelona with three inside baskets, forcing Madrid to call timeout at 28-29. Jeffery Taylor dunked for the visitors before Kuric followed a floater with a triple for a 33-31 Barcelona lead. Tomic, Heurtel and Pierre Oriola would soon boost Barcelona's margin to 39-33. Kuric hit a three-pointer but Tavares and Randolph kept Madrid within 42-37 at halftime. Kuric followed a fastbreak slam with a layup after the break, and a jump hook by Tomic made it a double-digit game, 48-37. Heurtel hit a jumper but Sergio Llull and Fernandez led a 0-6 run that gave Madrid hope at 50-43. Randolph buried his trademark corner triple while Kevin Pangos and Llull also struck from beyond the arc as Barcelona clung to a 56-51 advantage after 30 minutes. A wild dunk by Claver and free throws by Ribas and Heurtel allowed Barcelona to restore a 61-51 lead early in the fourth quarter. Carroll and Felipe Reyes tried to change things for Madrid but a jumper by Chris Singleton and a three-pointer by Heurtel broke the game open, 67-54. Fernandez followed a driving layup with a triple but Singleton and Tomic kept Barcelona way ahead, 71-59, with 3 minutes left. Fernandez insisted from downtown and Llull hit free throws as Madrid climbed within 71-64, but Barcelona stayed calm and cruised to a well-deserved win.
Kuric was the x-factor, hitting shots big shots when Barelona was struggling in the second quarter. He finished the game with 15 points on 3-of-4 two-point shots, 2-of-3 three-pointers and 3-of-4 free throws for a PIR of 15, all in just 17 minutes off the bench.
Madrid led 21-29 midway through the second quarter when Tomic scored three times in the paint to ignite Barcelona's comeback. He got help from Kuric, who hit a floater and a couple of three-pointers. Barcelona's defense excelled in a 21-6 run that allowed the hosts to get the lead for good, 42-35, near halftime.
Barcelona heavily outrebounded Barcelona by 43-32, pulling down 14 offensive boards. It also limited Madrid to just 12 assists, tying its season-low, and forced the guests into 17 turnovers.
Did you notice?
It was Barcelona's first EuroLeague win against Madrid since the new format was chosen three years ago. Madrid had won its last five EuroLeague showdowns against Barcelona, being particularily good at Palau Blaugrana: 74-101 in 2017-18 and 63-102 in the 2016-17 season.
In Round 25 next week, Madrid hosts Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul on Thursday in a rematch of last season's championship game. Barcelona visits Anadolu Efes Istanbul on Friday in a critical battle for home-court advantage in the playoffs.
Friday, March 1, 2019