FC Barcelona stayed stop the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague standings by downing Khimki Moscow Region 87-74 at Palau Blaugrana on Wednesday.
Barcelona improved to 11-3 in the standings and remained undefeated against Khimki at home with its sixth consecutive win against the Russian powerhouse. Meanwhile, Khimki dropped to 2-12 and is now on a six-game losing streak. Nikola Mirotic led the winners with 24 points. Cory Higgins added 20 points, Alex Abrines 13 and Pierre Oriola 10 for Barcelona, while Nick Calathes dished 12 assists. Alexey Shved led Khimki with 22 points. The guests also got 13 each from Sergey Karasev and Jordan Mickey. Barcelona led 32-25 at the end of a high-scoring first quarter, boosting its margin to 51-41 at halftime and then again to 69-53 after 30 minutes, never looking back.
Higgins needed just 6 seconds to strike from downtown and Mirotic added a jump hook for a 5-2 lead. Abrines downed a triple and Mirotic added consecutive fastbreak layups, giving the hosts a 14-7 edge. Vyacheslav Zaytsev and Dairis Bertans each struck from beyond the arc for Khimki and Jordan Mickey added an alley-oop slam. Nonetheless, Mirotic and Oriola boosted Barcelona's lead to 24-15. Shved stepped up with a tip-in and a three-pointer, getting help from Karasev to get Khimki within 27-23. Rolands Smits and Adam Hanga restored a 32-25 Barcelona lead after 10 minutes. Mickey posted a three-point play and a jumper early in the second quarter and Shved hit a runner. Brandon Davies and Smits, however, kept the hosts ahead, 36-32. Shved fed Devin Booker for a huge alley-oop slam but Davies scored down low and Higgins added a three-point play at 41-36. Shved struck from way beyond the arc and Karasev sank a jumper, then Mirotic followed a floater with a jumper, getting help from Higgins and Abrines to make it 51-41 at halftime. Abrines and Karasev traded threes right after the break, then Booker and Zaytsev hit layups to give Khimki hope at 54-48. Mirotic rescued Barcelona with 4 quick points and Abrines fired in his third triple for a 61-51 score. Davies and Oriola stepped up before a layup by Mirotic fixed the score at 69-53 after 30 minutes. Kyle Kuric, Shved and Stefan Jovic each struck from beyond the arc early in the fourth quarter. Karasev scored off a steal to bring Khimki within single digits, 72-64, with over 6 minutes left. Barcelona found a go-to guy in Higgins, who had 7 points in a 9-0 run that sealed the outcome, 81-63, with 3 minutes remaining.
Once again, Mirotic was highly effective on offense, helped on the boards, and made sure his team added another win. He finished the game with 24 points on 7-for-8 two-point, 2-for-3 three-point and 4-of-4 free-throw shooting, adding 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and 7 fouls drawn for a PIR of 34.
A three-pointer by Shved brought Khimki within 42-39 late in the first half. Mirotic stepped up with a floater and a jumper, igniting an 11-2 run that bridged the halves. Abrines capped the run with a bomb from downtown, giving Barcelona a 54-41 margin which the hosts handled well until the final buzzer.
Barcelona shot really well from beyond the arc and took great care of the ball. The hosts nailed 10 of 15 three-point shots (66.7%) while Khimki only make 11 of 36 (30.6%). Barcelona finished the game with 26 assists and only 13 turnovers.
Did you know?
Shved played his 150th EuroLeague game on the night of his 32nd birthday. He just needed 150 games to score 2,470 points and dish 689 assists. No other player with 150 games or less matches Shved's achievements: Vasilije Micic had 639 assists in 137 games, and Keith Langford amassed 2,289 points in 143 showdowns.
Both teams return to EuroLeague action later in 48 hours, on Friday. Khimki visits LDLC ASVEL Villeurbanne that night, tipping off 15 minutes before Barcelona hosts Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv, a big team in the history of Barca head coach Sarunas Jasikevicius.