FC Barcelona has a lot of weapons on offense and oftentimes there will be enough firepower so that the team will not have to rely on Nikola Mirotic. But the Spanish powerhouse desperately needed its star forward against Olympiacos Piraeus, and he stepped up.
Mirotic matched his season-high of 22 points and all of them were necessary as Barcelona barely fought off a tough battle from Olympiacos, winning 79-78 at home in overtime. The 30-year-old big man scored 21 of his points in the second half and overtime as he provided the spark for a team that really couldn’t get much going in the first 20 minutes.
Barcelona did not make a single three-pointer in the first half and then right after Kyle Kuric drained a triple to start the third quarter Mirotic followed suit from long range. That immediately gave a boost of confidence to a Barcelona offense, which had averaged 22 points per quarter in the first two games but managed just 27 points in the entire first half against Olympiacos.
Mirotic added two more scores in an important 11-0 run to temporarily gain control of the game. And he contributed 4 more points in pushing the advantage to 47-38. Mirotic continued his great second half and in the closing moments of regulation put Barcelona ahead 63-61 and again 65-63. In overtime, Mirotic drained a big turn-around jumper as well as 4 free throws to keep Barcelona’s confidence level up.
Sure, Pierre Oriola was the game-winner for Barcelona, grabbing the offensive rebound after a Cory Higgins miss and hitting 2 free throws after being fouled. But Barcelona would not have been in a spot to win the game if Mirotic had not delivered. In addition to his 22 points, he also contributed 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block and 5 fouls drawn for an index rating of 24.
All told, Mirotic showed once again that he is there when Barcelona needs him.