Barcelona steps up in the fourth to beat Maccabi, 83-78
FC Barcelona got back to winning ways on Tuesday night after downing Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv 83-78 at Palau Blaugrana. Having been the only team to beat Maccabi on its home floor this season, Barca has now secured the regular-season sweep against the Israeli team. With this victory, Barca improved to 14-8 while Maccabi dropped to 11-11.
Cory Higgins scored a team-high 15 points for Barca, who also had Rokas Jokubaitis, Nikola Mirotic and Jan Vesely finish in double figures with 14, 11 and 10 points, respectively. For Maccabi, who was still missing Lorenzo Brown due to injury, Jalen Adams had a game-high 20 points. Wade Baldwin recorded 15 points, of which 11 game in the third quarter. Darrun Hilliard and Jarell Martin finished with 11 points apiece.
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Barca was the team that had the better start to the game, opening an early 7-2 lead, but Maccabi quickly hit back with 5 straight points to tie it up at 7-7. There was a nice flow to the contest in the first quarter, with the momentum swinging from one side to the other, but Barca closed the first 10 minutes with a triple by Jokubaitis, 20-15.
Adams saw a three-pointer fall in the opening stages of the second quarter, but Jokubaitis responded with a triple of his own to ensure that the Barca fans inside Palau Blaugrana stayed calm. Maccabi did have Roman Sorkin rise up for a big block on Jokubaitis before scoring down the other end, 23-21, yet by the midway point of the quarter, Barca had its biggest lead of the game, 32-25, after Mike Tobey's score around the rim. That advantage extended to 9 points and then 11 thanks to scores by Higgins and Tomas Satoransky, respectively, as the score read 39-28. The gap reduced to 5 points, 39-34, and Maccabi went into halftime 4 points down thanks to a buzzer-beating triple by Hilliard.
After the break, Maccabi came out with a 5-0 run to take the lead for the first time since the first quarter, 41-42. Barca got back level soon after, 44-44, as Mirotic scored his first points of the night with a three-pointer, but then Baldwin came to the fore. He went 3-for-3 from the line to make it a 6-point game, 46-52, and then he scored a couple of triples to move to 11 points in the quarter and extend the lead to 7, 51-58. Maccabi also had Hilliard, Suleiman Braimoh and Adams step up to make it a 10-point game, 55-65, but Tobey's triple and a couple of made free throws by Jokubaitis cut the gap to 5 at the end of the third, 62-67.
Maccabi found a way to keep Barca at arm's length in the first few minutes of the fourth quarter, but when Mirotic converted a three-point play as part of a 7-2 run, the hosts found themselves 1 point down, 73-74. Soon after, Higgins hit a shot from deep to give Barca the lead, its first since early in the third quarter, and blow the roof off Palau Blaugrana, 76-74. Baldwin seemed to lose his groove in the fourth after shining so brightly in the third, while Barca kept its cool in the final minutes to see the win over the line. In the end, 4 made free throws by Higgins proved crucial, 82-74, as Barca went on to win 83-78.