The opening 40 minutes of Lokomotiv Kuban’s win over Barcelona weren’t bad but those 5 minutes of overtime were pure beast mode from Anthoony Randolph, writes Emmet Ryan
The Palau Blaugrana is hardly the most intimidating arena on the continent but it was in full voice as OT got under way in Game 4. A step-back floater from Juan Carlos Navarro had saved Barcelona and now their heads were up going into the extra period where, for sheer mental edge, they had to be favoured to close the series.
Anthony Randolph was having absolutely none of that nonsense. Anthony Randolph likes playing Euroleague games in Krasnodar. He likes it so much he was going to make sure there was one more there this year. Anthony Randolph is an emotional player and for these 5 minutes he was about to show Barca just how much he loved the idea of a Game 5 back in Russia.
On the first offence he bumped Justin Doellman slightly and looked dying for the ball. Then a bump of Alex Abrines to get open next possession and he made the mid-ranger. That was the warm-up but he was far from on full speed yet. Ante Tomic and Navarro both had his number as Barca responded right away, with the excess exuberance of Randolph taking him out of position. A heart player is going to have that shift back and forth. It’s getting more of the hot part to be on rather than off point that matters.
Loko realised pretty quickly that Randolph was far more on than off. On messy broken play Randolph hung way out to com in and make a three to beat the shot clock. Then came the defensive board and Randolph was lurking again. Every time he wanted that ball. His handle wasn’t perfect but no matter, he drew in the defenders to fire out a pass for Matt Janning for a three.
Next possession, the left of the arc before the cut to the right and then down to the baseline. Randolph breezed by Tomic to the hoop. Randolph’s flurry had Loko up 8 and the home side didn’t know what hit them. Xavi Pascual often seems to wait too long to call timeouts but this time he couldn’t really be faulted as the Randolph assault had caught everyone napping.
Tomic missed on the next inbounds and Randolph lurked again. A quick shimmy lost Tomic and he was open for the three. Of course he made it. Mr Overtime was squashing the home side in the added minutes. With 60 seconds to go it was over. Loko up 11 and Barca with essentially no way back.
Randolph took the next inbounds pass and dribbled into a hole but got out of it with trouble. Finally a score from Loko without Randolph involved directly as Delaney made three free throws to end it.
It was 8 points and 1 assist on the board but on the floor it was just an assault. Anthony Randolph, who had done plenty in regulation, came out like a fresh faced kid off the bench and beat his way through the Blaugrana. Game 5 is Tuesday.