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Jaycee Carroll scored 19 points (4-5 FG, 3-4 3Pt, 2-2 FT) and received plenty of help as four of his teammates scored in double figures, leading Real Madrid to a Game 3 win over FC Barcelona, thus completing a three-game sweep to claim the 2014/15 Liga ACB Championship on Wednesday evening at the Palau Blaugrana in Barcelona, Spain.
Real Madrid point guard Sergio Llull was named Finals MVP after averaging 14.3 points and three assists in the series. Llull was stellar in Game 2 when he scored 24 points while making six of eight three-pointers.
Barça center Ante Tomic finally broke out in Game 3, pouring in a game-high 29 points while going 14 for 15 from the field. Tomic scored 12 of the first 15 blaugrana points in the opening quarter as they avoided the pitfalls that did them in early on in the first two games of the series.
But it was too little too late for the Catalans, who once again struggled mightily from three-point range, where they shot 10 for 30 in Game 3, another reminder of their Achilles heel throughout the series. The team went a combined 29 for 77 (38%) from three-point territory in all three games.
Real Madrid, on the other hand, were outstanding from beyond the arc, where they went 14 for 23 on Wednesday and shot 53% in the series. Despite the big numbers, Madrid had to work harder to win game 3 and clinch the title.
Xavi Pascual's squad were clearly the more impressive side early on and did a much better job defending Madrid’s perimeter shooters and boxing out on the defensive boards. Nevertheless, a pair of missed layups and a blocked dunk attempt by Bostjan Nachbar at the first quarter horn kept the game knotted at 17 after ten minutes of play.
Whereas FC Barcelona were on the wrong end of sustained runs by Real Madrid in the first ten minutes of Games 1 and 2, it was a second quarter run that threatened to do in the Catalans in Game 3.
Barça’s tight man-to-man coverage and their hard-nosed play in the paint suddenly vanished and Real Madrid opened the second quarter with a 23–9 run that chewed up a seven-minute chunk of the clock.
Carroll heated up by making two of Madrid’s five threes over that stretch, which also included long-range bombs from Sergio Rodríguez (11 Pts, 3-4 3Pt), Jonas Marciulis and Andrés Nocioni.
Down by 14 points before halftime, Barça had no choice but to abandon an inside game that had been successful early and rely on outside shooting to get back into the game. But the eternal rivals traded baskets in the final minutes before the break, and the All-Whites waltzed into the intermission confident that one half of satisfactory basketball was the only thing standing between them and the title.
Barça come back
Barça managed to cut the deficit to six points before Madrid called timeout at the 5:56 mark of the third quarter to try and regroup. Two plays later Tomic was called for a technical foul that threatened to stall Barça’s momentum. But the Catalans kept coming and, for the first time in the series, were firing on all cylinders.
Àlex Abrines (16 Pts, 3-4 3Pt) and Justin Doellman (12 Pts, 4-7 3Pt) combined for five three-pointers as the Catalans stormed to a 67–65 lead at the end of the third quarter. Madrid's Sergio Rodríguez kept it from being a five-point game with a heave from half-court that just beat the horn.
Despite FC Barcelona’s newfound air of confidence and their first late-game lead of the series, the Madrileños battled right back, making three of their first four three-point shots during a 21–9 run to open the fourth quarter.
Madrid led by 79–73 with a little more than five minutes to play and then stretched the lead to 11 before Barça trimmed it back to five with one minute left. Tomic then scored to make it a one-possession game at 86–83 with 40 seconds still on the clock.
On Madrid’s ensuing possession, with the shot clock about to expire, Carroll hit a long, back-breaking two-pointer to make it 88–83. Tomic then caught a Doellman three-point air ball and laid it up, again making it a one-possession game. But with just nine seconds remaining and Barça forced to foul in order to stop the clock, Lull (10 Pts) was sent to the line and sunk both free throws to put the game away.
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