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FC Barcelona survived a second-half meltdown at the Palau Blaugrana on Friday night, blowing a 17-point third quarter lead over Euroleague group rivals Alba Berlin before pulling away in overtime. Justin Doellman scored 17 points and Ante Tomic chipped in with 16 in a game that saw Barça fail to bury their opponents when they had the chance, allowing Alba to hang around long enough to mount a late comeback and force the extra period.
Alex Renfroe and Reggie Redding each poured in 20 points in the losing effort. Renfroe also had seven assists and was instrumental in forcing overtime, where he fouled out with 1:21 remaining and his team behind by eight points, essentially ending any chance the visitors had of coming away with a dramatic victory.
After trailing by double digits for most of the second half, Alba Berlin had fought back to within five points of FC Barcelona with just 2:09 left in regulation. The visitors mixed 2- and 3-point baskets down the stretch while Barça did their best to protect the lead from the free throw line. After Alba tied the game at 75–75 on a Redding trifecta with 21 seconds remaining, Doellman was fouled and coolly nailed both free throws to put Barça in front by two with just 12 seconds left. But Alba's Leon Radosevic, who dropped 19 points on the evening, found himself alone and drove for a game-tying layup with 2.6 seconds left. A last-ditch Barça heave from past half court clanged off the backboard.
The dramatic ending was only made possible after the hosts failed to land the knockout punch with their opponents clearly on the ropes. Barça came out of the dressing room after halftime with 40–32 lead and quickly went on a 10–2 run. The Berliners had yet to make any adjustments on offense, consistently running the shot clock down to the final few seconds, leaving them with frequent off-balance and low percentage shots from the field.
Strong third quarter
Barça, meanwhile, rode the back of small forward Deshaun Thomas as they stretched their lead to a maximum of 17 points in the third quarter. Thomas led the way in the third frame, scoring 9 of his 11 points, grabbing three boards and drawing a pair of fouls. After Maciej Lampe drained back to back free throws to make it 59–42 with 2:10 left in the quarter, Barça could sense they were about to finish off the game.
But some ill-advised shooting of their own, coupled with sloppy passing and an inability to box out on the defensive boards were just the formula that Alba Berlin needed to crawl back into the game. Alba trimmed four points from their biggest deficit by the start of the fourth quarter and then proceeded to whittle it down to single digits with a Radosevic layup with 6:03 left to play. When Barça finally looked up at the scoreboard less than four minutes later, the stage was set for a dramatic finish.
Sleepy first half
The first half was the polar opposite of the second. Both teams came out shooting ice-cold from the field. With just one minute left in the first quarter, the game was still knotted 10–10. Alba were relying on mid-range jumpers and free throws while Barça survived the opening period by scoring in the paint and commandeering the boards. Barça's Tibor Pleiss was on the bench early with three personal fouls and ended up being a non-factor.
The second quarter started off sleepy as well, with tepid shooting and sloppy turnovers at both ends of the court. Àlex Abrines was one of the few bright spots, nailing a pair of long-range threes, the second one putting Barça up 26–22 at the 4:35 mark. Juan Carlos Navarro, who scored 14 points off the bench, followed with back-to-back baskets. The first was a 20-foot fade away jumper with a hand in his face, which caught nothing but net. After Alba answered with a bucket, Navarro came right back down and drained an open three from the top of the key. Doellman followed that with a nice pump fake and a layup. While Alba’s scrappiness kept them in it, Lampe made a three from the corner and Tomic laid one in at the horn to send the blaugranes into halftime with an eight-point lead.
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