It did not have a spectacular resolution, the kind that leave a basket to remember, but the Endesa League Christmas classic was frenetic, with constant alternatives, an offensive festival and a mirotic display, who starred in the last great defensive action of his team with a stopper, already in the last minute, when Madrid threatened to return the emotion to the game.
The complement to Mirotic’s demonstration of play to win was Barça’s defensive festival in the last quarter, too much for a Madrid that endured the three-quarter tug, but he didn’t manage to prolong the excitement to the end. Only some erratic attacks by the Catalans on the way to the last minute gave the whites hope, blocked by Mirotic, who ended up losing by five points in their first defeat, after 15 games, in the domestic competition.
The Jasikevicius satisfaction There should be no limits between the good choral performance of his team under the leadership of Mirotic (25 points and 10 rebounds) and that the sentence of the game came from the good defensive performance in the decisive minutes. “We were very disciplined, we deserved this victory,” said the coach.
The match had been extremely even, with a tie at 46 at half-time and with the maximum advantage before the last quarter of five points, in favor of Barça before half-time. But Madrid faded in the last quarter, powerless against the defensive commitment culé.
The start of the game did not respond to the low figures of the two precedents of the season. The rhythm was frenetic and the annotation came fluently, especially for a Madrid that moved the ball with dizziness in the face of the impotence of Barça’s exteriors. From the Jasikevicius car he pulled almost alone Niko Mirotic, excellent in shooting, quick to overcome the blocks with an advantage over his defender and with 14 points at the end of the first quarter (9 for the rest of the team) for Barça to go ahead at the first break. Jasikevicius looked for solutions to keep a lead on the scoreboard as constant as it was meager, and he found them hand in hand with the direction of Calathes, who diligently attended amid good deeds from Kuric, Oriola, Smits, and most of all, Cori Higgins.
Madrid tried to neutralize Mirotic with Gabriel’s defense Cover. Gabi doesn’t change. You can run, push, help… but don’t change ”, Laso said in a time-out to the Argentine, in charge only of Mirotic’s defense. At the same time, he found points from the launch beyond the line of three, not always with easy shots, especially on Llull’s wrist, with 11 points at halftime without failure from the triple. “They have achieved more baskets of three than two, we are going to change the defense to see how it works,” said Jasikevicus in Movistar before the start of the second half.
Something worked. Madrid went more than three minutes without scoring at the beginning of the third quarter, while Mirotic vindicated himself against the defense with hints of Deck’s desperation, but the attacks continued to punish the defenses without mercy and an almost total equality was maintained, slightly in favor of a Barça that faced the final quarter with a point advantage.
They pointed to the good collective performance of those of Jasikevicius Hanga from the base position, the fight of Oriola and the points of Higgins, all seasoned by Mirotic’s leadership on both sides of the court.
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Barça took a step forward in intensity and concentration in defense, until they achieved the maximum advantage with Smits and Pustovyi as an almost unprecedented inner couple. Minutes of anxiety in Madrid’s attack arrived, with lost balls, bad decisions and those erratic shots that Jasikevicius wanted with his defense. This is how Barça got an advantage of ten points with five minutes to go, a treasure according to the prevailing equality in the game.
REAL MADRID 82
FC BARCELONA 87
REAL MADRID: Causeur (8), Abalde (8), Laprovittola (8), Garuba (-), Tavares (11) -starting five- Rudy Fernández (-), Alocén (-), Deck (12), Carroll (10), Llull (14), Thompkins (6), Tylor (5).
10 of 27 triples (Llull, 3), 31 rebounds, 7 of. Tavares, (11), 12 assists (Tavares, 3)
FC BARCELONA: Calathes (7), Higgins (12), Abrines (2), Mirotic (26), Pustovyi (4) -starting five- Bolmaro (-), Smits (2), Martínez (-), Hanga (18), Oriola (10), Kuric (14).
6 of 16 triples (Hanga and Mirotic, 2), 38 rebounds, 11 of. (Mirotic, 10), 13 assists
PARTIAL: 22-23; 24-23; 19-18; 17-23
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