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81-80: Sensational comeback puts Madrid win away from league crown

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REPORT | 17/06/2019 | Edu Bueno | PHOTOGRAPHER: Víctor Carretero

A Carroll trey with 1.9 seconds left on the clock completed the turnaround in a match in which Madrid was down eight points with two minutes to go.
  • Playoff Liga Endesa
  • Final (Game 2)
  • 17/06/2019
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It has predicted that this would be a different game to the first one and that's how things turned out as a wounded Barcelona pushed Real Madrid to its physical and mental limit. However, the Whites once again produced a response full of character, pride and great effort and a grandstand finish that this team alone are capable of producing. After trailing throughout and failing to perform, the hosts kept on believing and at eight points down with two minutes reamining and with things looking a real uphill struggle, the Whites staged a memorable comeback that was rounded off with a Carroll triple 1.9 seconds from the end to unleash joyous scences amongst the Palacio faithful, who once again were amazing. The US shooting guard was the leading light with 25 points and five triples (PIR of 24). Tavares ended up a rebound away from a double-double (11 and nine). Pablo Laso's troops made it 2-0 in the series and are now just a win away from clinching the league title. The team has three chances to be crowned champions, the first of which comes in 48 hours' time at the Palau. 

Both teams played hard right from tip-off and the defenders dominated an opening stanza that was more of a physical bout than a basketball game. In this battle for supremacy, Barcelona was stronger in offense, with the points spread across the roster, against a Real Madrid side that was overly dependent on offensive rebounds (six) to put points on the board, given its lower success rate on shots (11-17, min. 10).

Ayón & Carroll pace Madrid
The Whites, with Llull at the wheel, sought to impose some tempo and speed on the game in the second quarter, with Ayón starring in offense (eight points). The problem, however, was the team's 0/7 on treys. Meanwhile, Heurtel and Oriola kept Barcelona in front (19-27, min.14). The feeling of always playing catch-up faded as the hosts surged back. The first two Madrid treys, from Carroll (eight) and a defensive tweak to nullify Heurtel a bit saw the madridistas tear up a 10-0 run to take the lead for the first time at 29-27 in the 18th minute. Barcelona snapped Madrid's run in the closing stages of the first half thanks to several plays from Claver (29-34, min. 20).

Real Madrid has racked up 65 wins this season, the second-best tally in club history.

In truth, Laso's charges weren't comfortable with the way in which the contest, which at times resembled a wrestling match, was panning out, which, in part, was down to the permissive approach and lack of rigour from the officiales. This upset Real Madrid, who once again was made to endure Heurtel, the main architect of his side establishing the biggest lead of the night in the 27th minute at 41-53. Despite this, Real Madrid kept on battling and believing. Another run of treys, featuring a pair from Llull and another from Rudy, gave the home side a boost as we headed into the final stanza (53-59, min. 30).

Historic ending 
Real Madrid came out in the decisive quarter intent on changing the outcome of the game. In the space of three minutes, the Whites tied things up at 62, with Llull and Carroll pacing the team. The Palacio was bouncing, but Barcelona wasn't about to give in and, true to form, countered the Whites' surge with a run of 10-1.

Carroll makes it possible
Despite being nine points down with less than two minutes left (65-74), the madridistas kept plugging away and with great spriti and, above all, belief in the victory, the hosts achieved a feat that looked impossible. Three triples, two from Randolph and another from Llull, along with an improved defensive display brought the team back to 78-80 with nine seconds to go following a free throw from Claver. In the final play, Rudy grabbed an offensive rebound. Llull dished an assist to Carroll and he shook off the attentions of his opponent with a dummy and sunk the winning triple to make it 81-80. The Palacio was brought to its feet to toast this crucial win.

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