Barcelona repels Crvena Zvezda to get back to wins

2022-03-18T22:53:16+00:00 2022-03-19T02:42:15+00:00.

Antonis Stroggylakis

18/Mar/22 22:53

Eurohoops.net

Crvena Zvezda tried to pull off a turnaround but Dante Exum kept Barca safe from harm.

By Eurohoops team/ info@eurohoops.net

Nikola Mirotic scored 19 points and Dante Exum dropped 11 out of his 13 points in the last quarter as Barcelona defeated Crvena Zvezda 82 – 70 to return to EuroLeague wins after an away loss to Zalgiris Kaunas. The top-placed Blaugrana improved to 19 – 5 and remain the favorite to finish first at the end of the regular season.

“In the EuroLeague, we know every team is tough and you have to play for 40 minutes,” Exum said. “So it is about the next game, not letting it up, making sure we put the foot on the throttle. We got the win and look to the next one.”

Exum’s contribution was particularly key for Barca since his team saw Zvezda trying to come back from a 57 – 34 deficit in the third quarter to make it 67 – 59 early in the fourth period. The Australian swingman produced 11 out of his team’s overall 15 points in the last seven minutes to help the hosts stay out of danger and approach crunch time on the safety pillow of a double-digit lead.

Brandon Davies had 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks for Barca. Ognjen Dobric led Zvezda with 17 points while Nikola Ivanovic scored 13 points, all of them in the fourth period.

Zvezda fell behind by 20 points in the second quarter and trailed up by 23 in the third period. With the score 59 – 37, Red Star made a 2 – 12 run and then trimmed the difference down to seven points.

Red Star approached 75 – 68 with 3:49 but then Exum had four unanswered points and then scored for the 80 – 70, keeping the Serbian team at bay.

“We have a difficult schedule: three more games away and the last game against Efes at home. We will go step by step, game by game, and we will see,” Zvezda coach Dejan Radonjic said. His team is now 11-13 and tied with AS Monaco for the eighth spot in the standings minus Russian teams.

Managing rotations and getting the win

Barcelona coach Sarunas Jasikevicius would’ve preferred to see his team finishing the game much sooner and avoid any potential scare down the stretch.

“Congratulations to our players and fans,” Jasikevicius said. “I thought our first 15 minutes, were absolutely spectacular, some of our best this season, and the best in a long time. And I thought there was a little bit of relaxation and probably a little bit of problems with my substitutions in the last four minutes. But it is a little bit of an excuse, because we need everybody in this crazy schedule in March. And then, very clearly, we showed we need to get our killer instinct back, because in some games now, we start to play better basketball but we don’t close the games better. But in general, I am very happy. Zvezda had won five out of six; they are in a very good shape and they showed it in the second half. We should be happy about, in general, the game and the result.”