Laprovittola helped Barca down his former team – News

Every time FC Barcelona and Real Madrid face each other, it is a important showdown for both teams. If, as they did before butting heads on Friday, both teams are tied atop the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague standings, El Clásico only gets better. There was a lot of extra spice in this particular game, too, as three backcourt players faced the teams they played for within the last year.

For Real, perimeter players Adam Hanga and Thomas Heurtel returned to Palau Blaugrana to go against Barcelona. They combined for 16 points but registered a combined PIR of just 4 between them.

The third player was Barcelona playmaker Nicolas Laprovittola, who played for Real in each of the previous two campaigns. Laprovittola had a quiet first quarter, going scoreless. Even with that, Nikola Mirotic and Brandon Davies led Barcelona to a 24-19 lead after 10 minutes.

Laprovittola finally found his rhythm midway through the second quarter, burying a three-pointer that gave Barcelona its first double-digit margin, 38-28. He drew 3 fouls and hit a couple of free throws to help Barcelona extend its margin to 51-42 at halftime. Laprovittola had his best minutes in the third quarter, following a bomb from downtown with a layup-plus-free throw combo that made it a 14-point game, 60-46. Real managed to get within 67-58 but Laprovittola ignited the crowd with a catch-and-shoot triple at the start of the fourth quarter.

By the time he scored again and assisted Kyle Kuric for a three-pointer, Barcelona had broken the game open, 79-64. Real never gave up, but didn’t get close enough to challenge. Laprovittola finished the game with 16 points on 2-of-4 two-point, 3-of-4 three-point and 3-of-3 free throw shooting, adding 2 rebounds, 4 assists and 6 fouls drawn for a PIR of 22.

Laprovittola was the perfect complement to another former Real player, Mirotic, who had a career-best performance against his former squad. He amassed a PIR of 39, a new personal-best, and really close to the club’s all-time record, 40, which belongs to Ante Tomic against Anadolu Efes Istanbul on February 27, 2014. Mirotic had 31 points, the most by a Barcelona player since current basketball section manager and EuroLeague legend Juan Carlos Navarro reached that scoring mark against Zalgiris Kaunas on November 9, 2006.

“Every game like this, with this environment, playing against one of the best teams in Europe, is going to be like this,” Laprovittola said after the game. “We prepared our minds. Our last game wasn’t good and we improved in this game. I think we have to keep going. We are doing things well. We have a tough week, so we have to rest. I am very happy to win. Every game we win, we enjoy a lot in the locker room, with everybody. I think we are building our character, our mentality, and that is very important.”

In the last four games since starting point guard Nick Calathes got injured, Laprovittola has averaged 14.8 points, 5.5 assists and a PIR of 19.5.

Barcelona leads the standings with a 12-2 record and won its last six EuroLeague games but according to head coach and four-time EuroLeague champion as a player Sarunas Jasikevicius, it is not what matters most right now.

“It is not important to lead the standings right now. It is important that we are finding solutions with a little bit of problems that we are having,” Jasikevicius said. “People are stepping up, people are responding to some bad games, coming back and playing really good games. This is, for me, important. We are showing character. The standings are really nice to look at, but it is not so important right now.”

Barcelona hits the road in the upcoming double-round week, facing Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade on Tuesday, December 14 and visiting Panathinaikos OPAP Athens on Thursday, December 16.

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