Barcelona outlasts Zvezda, 85-79
FC Barcelona got closer to clinching a playoff spot on Friday night after topping Crvena Zvezda Meridianbet Belgrade 85-79 at Palau Blaugrana. The hosts improved to 19-10 in the standings after recording its fifth consecutive win at home. Zvezda dropped to 12-17 following its third straight defeat, which leaves it three wins behind eight place, the last spot in the playoffs.
Jan Vesely and Nikola Mirotic paced the winners with 21 points apiece. Tomas Satoransky added 13, Alex Abrines had 12, while Rokas Jokubaitis dished 8 assists for Barca. Facu Campazo led Zvezda with 24 points. Filip Petrusev contributed 12, and Ben Bentil and Luka Mitrovic each had 11.
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Abrines struck twice from downtown and Mirotic's fastbreak layup gave Barca a 10-5 lead. Mirotic hit a triple and Satoransky followed a dunk with a jump hook for a 17-13 Barca edge. Campazzo's driving layup brought Zvezda closer, 18-15, after 10 minutes.
Mitrovic twice found the bottom of the basket and Campazzo scored in penetration to put Zvezda ahead, 20-21. Mitrovic got help from Petrusev to make it a 4-point game, 22-26. Jokubaitis and Mirotic combined for all 9 points in a 9-0 run that restored a 31-26 Barca advantage. Abrines hit 2 more from beyond the arc and Vesely added a three-point play to keep the hosts ahead, 40-36, at halftime.
Satoransky and Mirotic each struck from beyond the arc to make it a double-digit game, 46-36, right after the break. Zvezda found a go-to guy in Campazzo, who nailed 3 three-pointers and found Stefan Markovic for another one, bringing Zvezda within 50-48. But, Nico Laprovittola and Mirotic stepped up for Barca, restoring a 57-51 edge. Campazzo scored again, Bentil dunked and Vildoza's jumper tied it, 57-57, after 30 minutes.
Vesely took over with a three-point play early in the fourth quarter. Nikola Kalinic and Mirotic inspired a 10-0 run that saw Barca begin to pull away, 69-59, with over six minutes left. Petrusev and an unstoppable Campazzo, however, brought Zvezda within 78-76 with 1:46 remaining. Yet, in the closing stages, Rokas Jokubaitis hit a critical jumper and Kalinic struck from downtown to seal the outcome.