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Mario Hezonja's steady hand guided FC Barcelona to victory on Sunday at the Palau Blaugrana / PHOTO: ALEIX TELLO - FCB

FC Barcelona ended their two game losing streak by beating Zaragoza at the Palau Blaugrana on Sunday afternoon, despite playing without some key players due to injury. It was a big win as Zaragoza had just come away from qualifying for the final 32 of the European Cup.

Back and forth first half

While Barça ran out to a 13-5 lead in the opening minutes thanks to strong offensive play and erratic shooting by Zaragoza, both sides struggled on the defensive end and gave plenty of open looks at the basket.

But the run and gun first half ended up costing Barça, and would have much more dearly if it hadn't been for the steady hand of Mario Hezonja, who would end up with 14 points on the day.

Hezonja's efforts were what kept the team afloat as he flashed his full repertoire throughout the game, including a three-pointer just before the horn blew at the half and a fast-break slam dunk in the fourth quarter.

As Barça's defense tightened up in the second quarter, Hezonja's entry into the game allowed Barça to coast into halftime with a 47-34 lead.

Happy ending

Zaragoza went on a 10-0 run to open the third quarter as Barça came out of the dressing room a bit sluggish. Barça coach Xavi Pascual, sensing danger, called a timeout with his team's lead down to seven points at 58-51. Thomas Satoransky then came into the game and Barça looked like they got Pascual's message, as they regained control in the following three minutes and saw themselves up by 14, 69-55.

Barça was solid in the fourth quarter, led by a stellar effort from Tibor Pleiss who had a team-high 15 points on the day.  By then, Zaragoza was just running on fumes as FC Barcelona finished them off while putting the last two games behind them and getting back to their winning ways.


Showtime Mario Hezonja por fcbarcelona

MATCH STATISTICS

FC Barcelona 90, CAI Zaragoza 67

FC Barcelona: Hezonja (14), Huertas (14), Pleiss (15), Thomas (8), Lampe (8)- starting five-, Doellman (12), Hakanson, Satoransky (12), Eric, Peno, Nachbar (3) and Tomic (4).

CAI Zaragoza: Llompart (6), Katic (10), Pere Tomàs (8), Landry, Goulding (5)- starting five-, Lisch (5), Sastre (3), Robinson (9), Norel (4), Fontet (2) and Jelovac (15).

By quarter: 23-16, 24-13, 22-21, 21-12.

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