FC Barcelona Lassa have lost at Real Madrid for the first time this season, and when it hurt the most. Defeat in game three of the Liga Endesa final series means they’ll now need back-to-back wins in order to claim the trophy. Game four is also in Madrid and if Barça win that, then it’s home to the Palau Blaugrana for the decider.
As in the second game in Barcelona, it was 3-pointers, command of the rebounds and a magnificent Sergio Llull (21 points) that caused the most damage to Barça, who were never able to match the Madrid scoring rate. The turning point, however, was the third period, when Rudy Fernández scored 10 consecutive points.
But things were already looking ominous at half-time, with the score at 52-37. Madrid had just scored 7 threes in 20 minutes, an almost 50% conversion rate, and an immense 16 rebounds. In the same time, Barça had only scored two 3-pointers and claimed 11 rebounds.
Barça had tried hard to keep the pace, with Satoransky looking strong early on as they led 14-15 after 7 minutes. But Madrid responded to that with a 15-6 streak to go +8 at the end of the first period.
It was mainly on the back of free throws that Barça clawed their way back to 35-31 on the quarter hour, but a 9-0 run including a spectacular three from Nocioni soon had the home side back in charge.
Consecutive threes from Navarro, who took over the leadership role, managed to get the difference back to single figures, and an FC Barcelona comeback suddenly looked on the cards. But Rudy Fernández was having none that. His ten points in a row spun things back in favour of the all-whites (72-56).
A triple from Maciulis and two more from Thompkins were anything but the start Barça wanted to the final period. At 77-56 they had a mountain climb, and it was a mountain too high. The last ten ended 14-16, but it was too little too late and the final score of 91-74 puts Madrid 2-1 in the best-of-five final series.
It’s time to regroup and look for a big win in game four, which would bring things back to Barcelona for a spectacular decisive leg.