Lorenzo Brown leads UNICS past Maccabi
UNICS Kazan sent a message that echoed all around the competition by downing Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv 74-85 at Menora Mivtachin Arena on Thursday. UNICS improved to 8-6 in the standings and registered its fifth win in the last six games. Maccabi dropped to 7-7 and is now on a four-game losing streak. Lorenzo Brown led the winners with 26 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists. Isaiah Canaan added 18 points, Mario Hezonja had 14 and O.J. Mayo scored 11 for UNICS. Scottie Wilbekin paced Maccabi with 18 points, Jalen Reynolds and James Nunnally each added 12 and Ante Zizic had 11 for the hosts. The hosts led by 3 heading into the fourth quarter which is when Hezonja and Lorenzo Brown took over as UNICS outscored Maccabi 8-22 to record an important win.
Hezonja got UNICS going with a triple, Jarrell Brantley added a driving layup and John Brown III hit back-to-back jumpers, which prompted Maccabi to call timeout at 2-9. Keenan Evans and Lorenzo Brown traded three-pointers and Wilbekin soon struck from downtown to bring Maccabi within 10-14. Brantley stepped up with a fast break slam, but Wilbekin bettered that with a triple and fed Zizic for a fastbreak slam, igniting a 9-0 run that Reynolds capped with a dunk that gave Maccabi a 19-16 lead. Lorenzo Brown struck from beyond the arc, Canaan found his first points and Mayo beat the first-quarter buzzer with a huge four-point play that gave UNICS a 24-26 edge.
Canaan took over with a driving layup early in the second quarter, but Nunnally and Jalen Reynolds allowed Maccabi to regain a 30-28 lead. After Jekiri dunked, John DiBartolomeo made a deep three-pointer. Mayo hit a one-handed jumper in the lane and Jekiri scored down low for a 33-34 UNICS edge. Wilbekin insisted from beyond the arc before Lorenzo Brown answered with a driving layup. Zizic scored twice in the paint to put Maccabi up 40-36. Canaan buried a three-pointer and Jekiri added a layup that tied it at 41-41. Lorenzo Brown hit a turnaround jumper, but James Nunnally tied the game, 43-43, at halftime.
Zizic scored around the basket soon after the break and Nunnally added a floater for a 47-43 Maccabi lead. Lorenzo Brown stepped up with back-to-back layups and Mayo buried a corner triple to cause the hosts to stop the game, 47-50, after a 0-7 run. Nunnally kept pushing his team and Evans provided another lead change, 51-50. Wilbekin buried a huge triple off the dribble and Caloiaro banked in a turnaround jumper, but Canaan and Lorenzo Brown helped UNICS tie it at 56-56. Reynolds and John Brown III traded close baskets. Then DiBartolomeo and Canaan each struck from beyond the arc. Reynolds dunked and Wilbekin added a floater to give Maccabi a 66-63 margin after 30 minutes.
Lorenzo Brown scored in penetration early in the fourth quarter and Hezonja downed a jumper and a three-pointer to put UNICS in charge, 66-70. Hezonja silenced the crowd with a huge alley-oop slam and Lorenzo Brown soon made it 67-74 with over 6 minutes left. Zizic banked in a jump hook and Nunnally added a triple, giving Maccabi hope at 72-76. Hezonja dunked again and Lorenzo Brown buried a close basket to give UNICS fresh air at 72-80. Lorenzo Brown sealed the outcome with a jumper, as Maccabi struggled to score in crunch time.
Lorenzo Brown makes the difference
UNICS Kazan playmaker Lorenzo Brown confirmed his outstanding form against Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv and proved again that he is one of the best floor generals in the competition. Brown was all over the place in Round 14 against Maccabi, finishing the game with 26 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists, a steal and 4 fouls drawn for a PIR of 30. He has scored over 20 points three times in his team's last four games; Brown netted 21 against both ALBA Berlin and Olympiacos Pireus. In that span, Brown is averaging 19.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 7.0 assists and a PIR of 24.0.
Efficiency gives UNICS a big win
UNICS Kazan were outrebounded 32-26 in its Round 14 game against Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv, but shot the ball better and took better care of turnovers than the Israeli champs. UNICS finished the game with 14 assists and 10 turnovers. Maccabi only had 11 assists, matching its season-low, and committed 17 turnovers. UNICS had better shooting percentages from all distances, hitting 58.3% of its two-point shots, 40.9% from downtown and 94.1% from the foul line. Maccabi had lower numbers - 46.7% 2FG, 34.8% 3FG, 78.6% FT.
Hezonja's fourth-quarter wonder
Mario Hezonja was battling foul trouble in UNICS Kazan's visit to Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv in Round 14. He started the fourth quarter with 4 fouls and his team down 66-63. Hezonja did not foul out and made the difference in the game with an extraordinary fourth-quarter performance. He buried a jumper, added a three-pointer and soon took over with a huge alley-oop slam for a 66-72 UNICS margin. Hezonja kept helping UNICS in many ways and provided another highlight with a fastbreak dunk off a steal. When the dust settled, UNICS won and Hezonja finished the game with 14 points in 20 minutes.
Thursday, December 9, 2021