Mirotic completes Barcelona's comeback in Valencia
In an intense showdown that came down to the final play, FC Barcelona registered its fourth consecutive win in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Regular Season by edging Valencia Basket 76-77 at La Fonteta on Wednesday. Barcelona improved to 17-6 in the standings while Valencia dropped to 11-12. Nikola Mirotic led the winners with 26 points, including the go-ahead layup with 3.4 seconds left. Fernando San Emeterio paced Valencia with 17 points, Bojan Dubljevic added 14 while Joan Sastre had 10 for the hosts. Valencia led 43-37 at halftime and behind a pair of San Emeterio three-pointers soon after the break stretched the margin to 58-42 margin. It was 68-53 early in the fourth quarter when Thomas Heurtel led an 0-11 run that brought the visitors back. A late Alex Abrines three-pointer and an up-and-under layup by Mirotic allowed Barcelona to win the game.
Dubljevic got Valencia going with a triple from the top of the key and a tip-in. Mirotic stepped up with a driving layup, but Sastre did better with a three-pointer for an 8-2 lead. Mirotic kept pushing Barcelona but Dubljevic and San Emeterio took over with consecutive three-point plays for a 14-8 score. After Ante Tomic dunked, San Emeterio and Mirotic traded bombs from downtown. Adam Hanga hit a floater that made it 17-15. A red-hot San Emeterio scored around the basket and Mike Tobey ignited the crowd with an alley-oop slam for a 21-15 Valencia lead, which Victor Claver cut to 21-18 after 10 minutes. Colom and Doornekamp struck from beyond the arc in an 8-0 run which Alberto Abalde capped with a driving layup that made it a double-digit game. Tomic hit a jump hook and Pierre Oriola bettered Tobey's layup with a triple to give Barcelona hope at 31-23. Vives joined the three-point shootout and Abalde nailed a stop-and-pop jumper, but Mirotic and Hanga brought the visitors even closer, 36-31. Mirotic and Abrines each dunked and Brandon Davies scored down low, but Colom and Sastre kept Valencia in charge, 43-37, at halftime.
San Emeterio sank his second three-pointer immediately after the break and Louis Labeyrie dunked as Valencia restored a double-digit margin, 48-37. Dubljevic capped a 12-0 run with a jump hook. Claver rescued Barcelona with a jumper and a bomb from downtown. Vives scored in penetration and San Emeterio struck twice from beyond the arc to boost the hosts' lead to 58-42. Hanga took over with a high-flying driving layup, igniting a 0-9 run that Mirotic capped with a three-point play for a 58-51 score. Maurice Ndour stepped up with a reverse layup and Tobey added a triple in an 8-0 run in which Abalde gave Valencia a 66-53 margin after 30 minutes. Tobey scored around the basket early in the fourth quarter, but Abrines and Heurtel brought Barcelona within 68-58 with 7 minutes left. Heurtel struck twice from downtown off a Valencia timeout to cap an 0-11 run and bring his team back in the game, 68-64. Dubljevic rescued the hosts with a layup, but Mirotic answered from beyond the arc and added a put-back layup to make it 70-69 with 3 minutes left. Sastre had 4 quick points, but Davies kept Barcelona within 74-72. Dubljevic hit 2-of-6 free throws and Abrines sank a triple that turned the game into a thriller, 76-75, with 44.9 seconds to go. Colom missed a floater and Mirotic gave Barcelona the lead with an up-and-under layup with 3.4 seconds left. San Emeterio missed from beyond midcourt at the buzzer.
One again, Nikola Mirotic was the difference-maker in the game; no other Barcelona player scored in double figures. Mirotic did everything right, finishing the game with 26 points on 5-of-6 two-point shooting, 3-of-6 three-pointers and 7-of-8 free throws, plus 4 rebounds, 2 assists, a steal and 8 fouls drawn for a PIR of 32.
Bojan Dubljevic gave Valencia a 76-72 lead in the next-to-last minute. In need of a quick score, Malcolm Delaney found Alex Abrines for a critical three-pointer. Quino Colom missed at the other end and even though Valencia had one foul to give, Barcelona managed to find Nikola Mirotic in the low post; his up-and-under move allowed him to score and draw a foul. He missed the free throw attempt on purpose to run the game clock down, too.
Bojan Dubljevic pulled down 13 rebounds, a new career-high. His previous personal best was 12 rebounds against Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul earlier this season. It was his fourth double-double this season and the fifth in his EuroLeague career.
Did you notice?
Barcelona had a lower team PIR than Valencia, which is unusual for the winning team. Valencia had a team PIR of 87, limiting Barcelona to just 79. Valencia won in all the hustle stats: 7-4 in steals, 2-0 in blocks and 14-9 in offensive boards but in the end, Barcelona won the game.
Both teams return to Turkish Airlines EuroLeague action on Friday, February 7. Zvezda travels to Germany to face FC Bayern Munich. Barcelona hosts AX Armani Exchange Milan.
Wednesday, February 5, 2020