The Dallas Mavericks found out first hand just how good FC Barcelona Regal is, as the 2011 NBA champs went down 99-85 to the European powerhouse in an exhibition game at Palau Sant Jordi in Spain on Tuesday.
It is Barcelona’s third win in three tries against an NBA team, beating the Phildelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers in previous editions of NBA Europe Live. Forward Pete Mickeal (who attended the University of Cincinnati) and former Euroleague MVP Juan Carlos Navarro each had 19 points to lead all scorers. Center Nate Jawai had 13 while Ante Tomic and Marcelinho Huertas each contributed 12.
Chris Kaman led Dallas with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Darren Collison added 14 while Elton Brand had 10 for the Mavericks, who did not have Dirk Nowitzki. The Mavs All-Star was resting a sore knee.
Most NBA fans may not be familiar with FC Barcelona, but the Spanish club has been one of the dominant teams in Europe for the past decade, winning two Euroleague titles (2003 and 2010) and 17 Spanish League championships. The 2010 Barcelona squad is considered one of greatest Euroleague teams of all time, and it was led by Navarro, Mickeal, Fran Vasquez, and Ricky Rubio.
When Rubio bolted for the NBA, Barcelona turned the team over to another top-flight point guard in Huertas. ESPN basketball analyst Fran Fraschilla compares the 29-year-old Brazilian to Steve Nash in terms of ball-handling and play-making ability. Huertas, who is listed at 6-3, could easily make the jump to the NBA. But why would he? He would be wasted in the NBA because teams would be reluctant to hand him the reins of a team, and he’ll probably end up being a backup somewhere (much like FC Barcelona teammate Navarro, who rode the bench with the Memphis Grizzlies).
According to Draft Express:
Huertas is a small and skinny point guard, with solid quickness, excellent ball-handling skills, and the ability to change speeds on the fly and get to the basket at a very nice rate. Once known as a fairly wild player (like many Brazilian guards), Huertas has matured over the last few years, and now looks much more patient and under control, making excellent decisions on the pick and roll in particular, getting everyone on his team involved unselfishly (in a variety of ways), pushing the ball up the floor well, showing excellent court vision, and also being able to score the ball himself when things broke down offensively. He has a nice mid-range game, and is a decent shooter from 3-point range, nothing spectacular (his release is not very quick), but enough to keep defenses honest and prevent them from going underneath screens on the pick and roll.
Against the Mavericks, Huertas had three assists and two steals in 36 minutes. He was also 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
Alex Abrines helped Barca take an early 35-27 lead, but the Mavs stormed back thanks to Kaman and Shawn Marion. Dallas trailed 42-40 at halftime. Barcelona rolled after the break, as a put-back layup by C.J. Wallace made it a double-digit game at 59-49. Navarro and Mickeal powered the European club to a 68-51 margin in the third quarter. Dallas managed to get to within six at 89-83 with three minutes to go, but Tomic and Navarro stepped up in crunch time to seal the victory.