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The Palau Blaugrana witnessed an absolute humdinger of a game on Thursday night between the top to two sides in Euroleague Group C. FC Barcelona Lassa had to pull out all the stops to clinch a 72-68 win and match Lokomotiv Kuban on 4-1. The game wasn’t decided until the very last moment, with the famous magic of the Palau once again working wonders.
And there was further cause to celebrate, for that was also win number 250 for FCB in the history of the tournament, making them only the second club to have reached that milestone.
Two cagey periods
Ante Tomic monopolised almost all the Barça attack early on with 10 points in the first period, although it was a Doellman 3-pointer that set up the first big lead for the home side at 9-4. It was not long before Lokomotiv responded with a display that showed why they were unbeaten in the group so far. A 5-10 streak threw the Russians straight back into contention at 18-16 and the script for the second period was essentially one of Barça holding onto a slim lead but Lokomotiv constantly forcing errors that meant that neither side was ever really able to get into the flow.
Two from Bykov and three from Delaney finally got the Russians all square on 28-28, but the half ended with a minute of defensive and offensive brilliance from Barça involving three frees from Abrines, a two from Oleson, two more frees from Tomic and then a terrific speed-play from Ribas. They’d go in for the break with their lead firmly re-established at 37-31.
Stutter and reaction
Ante Tomic flew back into his stride for the start of the third period, with four consecutive points followed by a grand assist for Satoransky. At 42-33 it looked like the game was finally broken, but Lokomotiv once again fought their way back into it. Barça’s scoring suddenly dried up and instead they started losing sloppy balls, allowing their visitors a 4-16 streak that had them leading for the first time at 46-49. A couple of free throws from Ribas meant the period ended 48-49, but in a remarkable turnaround in affairs, Barça were now right up against it.
A reaction was needed, but when Lokomotiv went on a 0-8 run, it was beginning to look like the Palau wasn’t going to get it. Especially following some questionable calls, the home crowd was worked up into a frenzy, and the team responded with a 9-0 streak to get the team back on level terms at 57 each. The game could not have come to a more dramatic conclusion, with moments of magic and moments of horror from both sides with Barça eventually pipping it with an Abrines three to get it to 65-63, and then managing the clock to perfection to secure a very satisfying win indeed.
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