Barcelona End Lokomotiv’s Winning Streak

Euroleague Basketball
Ante Tomic shoots - Courtesy of Euroleague.net

FC Barcelona beat 72-68 Lokomotiv Kuban Krasnodar in a strange Euroleague encounter on Thursday evening that gave the Spanish side their 250th win and simultaneously put an end to Lokomotiv’s impressive winning streak.

The mildly interesting but somewhat meaningless historical milestone for the Spanish side ended an arguably more impressive streak for the Russian side. Krasnodar were 4-0 in the competition before this game, giving them their first loss of the season. An away loss to Barcelona is nothing to feel too down about and still leaves the Russian side at the top of the table in Group C.

Lokomotiv could have improved on discipline as they sent the home side to the line 27 times of which they only missed four attempts. Where Krasnodar shined was on the offensive glass; getting no less than 14 offensive boards as a team, but not enough to give them the win.

For the home team, Ante Tomic was the relevation of the night. Tomic was the first to register on the scoreboard with an easy basket that set the tone for his game as he led Barcelona in scoring with 16 points and three steals. Yet his two most impressive highlights from the night counted towards his seven assists. The Croatian can move the ball quite niftily for a seven-plus footer.

For the visitors Malcolm Delaney was in his usual form, just shy of topping his average, 18.6 points per game. But Dontaye Draper led scoring for the visitors with 20 points and scored all three of his long range attempts.

Barcelona led for much of the game, but gave up the lead in the third quarter, falling even further behind in the early fourth as Kuban Krasnodar scored the first eight points of the final period. The whistles which had largely been going Barcelona’s way for the first three quarters disappeared as a Lawal dunk appeared to be blocked from inside the basket and a Ribas turnover was ripped from his hands. The crowd unhappy with their absence replaced them with high pitched sounds of their own.

In spite of this less than inspiring start to the quarter for the home side, a couple of threes from Brad Oleson and a catch and shoot three from Alex Abrines off a Singleton block helped swing the momentum back in Barcelona’s favour. The comeback also included a couple of nice drives from Tomas Satoransky and some post play by Samuels. Although the clip below showcases Tomic’s brilliant no-look set up.

https://vine.co/v/iBuZtmvr5Aw/embed/simple

The action wasn’t all one way as a Draper three restored Lokomotiv’s lead, silencing almost all of the crowd, the chanting Dracs supporters club whose drum beat carried on rallied the crowd quickly enough. A magnificent Draper fade away three over a towering Tomic left the Croatian centre smiling at the guard as there wasn’t much else left to do.

Amid all of the scoring in the fourth quarter, Barcelona reclaimed the lead and went on a 13-4 run in the last four minutes. Turnovers from the visitors and both of their key contributors in Delaney and Draper missing important free throws didn’t help in the dying minutes. Coach Georgios Bartzokas acknowledged the high turnovers:

“We had 3 turnovers in the last 2 minutes and finally lost this game. I am satisfied with our effort but not for the result. You don’t have many chances to beat Barcelona on the road.”

Although there wasn’t always something they could do about it as one of those turnovers came from a vital and incredible steal by Tomas Satoransky sealed the victory for Barcelona as he snatched the ball off the inbound after a Lokomotiv time out before making the last two points of the game in the form of free throws.

This results leaves Lokomotiv at the top of the group but both teams with a 4-1 record and marks the halfway point in the regular season. Both teams would have to implode to not progress to the next round at this point, but the next few weeks should set the tone for how they will perform in the Top 16.