Terrence Morris's follow-up basket with 4 seconds remaining lifted Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv to an 81-82 win over Armani Jeans Milano on Thursday night in Italy. The victory was Maccabi's first road win of the season and lifted the team's record to 4-2 and into a three-way tie for second place in Group B. Meanwhile Milano dropped to 1-5 and remains in sixth place in the group standings. Morris scored 13 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter as the Israeli champs erased a 7-point deficit in the closing minutes. Milano led 76-69 with four minutes to go, but three-pointers by Yotam Halperin and Morris got Maccabi close again. Morris took a feed from Lior Eliyahu for a one-handed jam that put Maccabi on top, but Dusan Vukcevic fired back with a triple. Maccabi's defense fended off Melvin Booker to get the ball back with 12.5 seconds remaining. Will Bynum went to the basket and missed, but Morris was there with a follow-up to give Maccabi a valuable road win. Halperin 20 led Maccabi with 20 points and Esteban Batista added 11 points and 8 rebounds. Morris also grabbed 8 rebounds. Dusan Vukcevic and Danilo Gallinari posted 20 points apiece for Milano, while Travis Watson had 16 points and 7 rebounds. Gallinari also dished 6 assists.
Tipoff was delayed by several minutes following a brief ceremony to celebrate 50 Years of European Club Basketball by honoring players and coaches from Milano's 1987 and 1988 Euroleague title-winning sides. Milano won the opening tip, but Vonteego Cummings went-coast-to-coast for the first points after Booker missed from outside. Watson went inside for the hosts' first basket, but a Cummings triples and long basket put Maccabi in control. Gallinari picked up his second foul in less than three minutes and after Vukcevic and Marcus Fizer traded threes, David Bluthenthal drilled one from downtown to make it 8-15 and cause head coach Attilio Caja to use his first timeout. Watson and Vukcevic cut into the deficit with 2 free throws each and soon Gallinari added a basket-plus-foul. And when Vukcevic drilled a three, it capped a 10-2 run that gave Milano its first lead. The hosts continued to pull away after a technical foul on Maccabi head coach Oded Kattash gifted Gallinari 3 from the line and a Casey Shaw tip-in. Maccabi tied it on an Alex Garcia steal and layup, but Vukcevic made it 25-23 after 10 minutes.
Pietro Aradori scored in transition for Milano to open up the second period, but Batista's first basket tied the game at 27-27 and a Halperin three restored a Maccabi lead. Batista then soared for an offensive rebound that he converted into a basket-plus-foul. Vukcevic and Halperin traded triples, but a nice penetration by Gallinari kept Milano close. Watson added a free throw and the tied the game at 37-37 with a power dunk. Omri Casspi converted a reverse layup and then fed Batista for a bucket, but Mindaugas Katelynas and Gallinari came right back and hit three-pointers for a 43-41 Milano lead. After a Maccabi timeout, Halperin sniped a three from the corner and after a Booker basket, Bluthenthal also hit from downtown to give the visitors a 45-47 halftime advantage.
Eliyahu scored inside to open the second half, but Gallinari answered from beyond the arc. Eliyahu continued his strong start to the second half with two more baskets however Watson scored inside and Gallinari added a free throw to keep Milano close. Watson remained perfect from the field as he tied the score at 55-55 midway through the third period. Gallinari went to the basket and came back with 2 points and Ansu Sesay added free throws. Soon Booker drilled a triple to cap an 11-0 run that gave the hosts their biggest lead, 62-55. Batista ended the Maccabi drought with an offensive rebound and a slam, but a Booker jumper kept the hosts in control. Derrick Sharp's three with 10 seconds left in the period helped Maccabi get back to 64-61 heading into the fourth quarter.
Morris's short jumper got Maccabi going and his baseline jumper put the visitors up 1. Morris remained hot when he corrected Garcia's miss for a slam as Milano took a timeout. Milano went for a safe basket inside from Watson and a minute later he tied the score at 67-67 from the line. Bynum penetrated for a score, but Gallinari bettered him with a three-pointer. Maccabi lost an outside shooter when Bluthenthal fouled out and Vukcevic padded the Milano lead with a layup. Shaw made it 74-69 midway through the period with an offensive rebound and basket. Booker extended the lead even further before Halperin finally answered with a three. After Vukcevic free throws, Morris popped a three from the top of the key and then Cummings fed Halperin for a basket in transition to bring Maccabi within 78-77 with two minutes remaining. After Watson missed a jumper, Eliyahu fed Morris for a one-handed jam that put Maccabi on top, but Vukcevic fired back with a triple. Watson helped Milano kill the clock with a clutch offensive rebound. After forcing Booker into a pair of missed shots, Maccabi had the ball with 12.5 seconds remaining. Bynum went to the basket and missed, but Morris was there with a follow-up to give Maccabi a valuable road win.
Thursday, November 29, 2007