Deck, Llull, Musa made the difference against Barca
Real Madrid pleased its fans with a 91-86 home win over FC Barcelona in the latest edition of El Clasico. Three players stood out and took turns to make sure Los Blancos cruised to the top of the standings in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague.
Barca led most of the way but each time it got an important lead, Gabriel Deck was there to rescue Real and bring them closer. When Barca led 9-20, Deck had 6 points in a 7-0 run that got Real within 16-20 after 10 minutes. Once the visitors regrouped and got a double-digit lead at 34-44, Deck was ready to step up again, scoring half of the points in an 8-0 run that got Los Blancos closer, 40-44.
Deck already had 17 of his game-high 23 points when Barca led 52-61 with over 8 minutes remaining. If not for his relentless play until that point, the visitors would have been sitting pretty.
Team captain Sergio Llull and Coach Chus Mateo praised Deck's work after the game. "Gabi is amazing. He is a quiet guy that doesn't speak too much off the floor. But on the floor, you saw his character. He never puts his arms down, and we really need him," Llull said.
"Gabi Deck... if someone represents this big heart, probably it's him," Coach Mateo added.
Despite all that Deck had done, Real clearly needed a second scorer to return to the game and that's when Llull took matters into his own hands.
Llull buried a three-pointer in transition and when he did, longtime Real fans could feel what was coming. Llull went on to hit a stop-and-pop jumper from the foul line, a fastbreak layup, a free throws and an electric driving basket. By the time he buried another shot from downtown, Real had taken the lead, 69-67. He had been scoreless until then, and scored 13 points in a little bit over 5 minutes.
"We played against a really tough team, but I think in the end, we recovered our soul, our character," Llull said after the game. "You can win or lose games, but cannot ever lose your character, your DNA as a team. And I think that in the last quarter and in overtime, we showed that character to win."
Llull committed a turnover with 2.2 seconds left which denied Real the chance to win the game at the end of regulation. Real needed a new x-factor and Dzanan Musa delivered throughout the entire extra period.
Musa thrilled the crowd with a driving layup, a pair of free throws and an off-balance, one-handed jumper that forced Barca to call timeout at 81-76. Once Real got another defensive stop, Musa buried a three-pointer that seemed to seal the outcome. Barca managed to get within 87-84 but Llull was ice cold from the foul line and drained 4 attempts in the final 11.9 seconds.
Musa had 9 of his 18 points in overtime. Llull scored all of his 19 points in the final 13 minutes of the game.
"You can never discount Real Madrid. We have a great heart, and we fight until the end. And we showed that tonight," Musa said after the game. "This is a big game for us, a big game for the standings and especially, it is nice to win in El Clásico. It is unbelievable."
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