Maccabi bowled over Partizan 98-78
Maccabi Electra evened up its Quarterfinal Playoffs series with Partizan Belgrade at 1-1 following a 98-78 victory in an intense contest at Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv on Thursday. Tempers flared numerous times and players needed to be separated in a physical game that featured 58 fouls and 67 free throws attempted between the two teams. David Bluthenthal and Andrew Wisniewski highlighted a 15-2 charge late in the second quarter that gave the hosts a 54-39 halftime lead and Partizan never got closer than 11 in the second half. Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for next week in the Serbian capital and if necessary, Game 5 will be back in Tel Aviv on April 7. The winner of the best-of-five series will advance to the 2010 Euroleague Basketball Final Four in May in Paris. Maccabi shot the ball well all game and was fortunate that two of Partizan’s top players, Bo McCalebb and Aleks Maric, did not. McCalebb did not make a single field goal in 6 attempts and was 5 for 8 from the line. Maric, whom Maccabi fouled 11 times in an effort to stop him, finished with a team-high 16 points, but was just 6 of 12 from the line. Wisniewski and Bluthenthal paced the winners with 17 points apiece, D’Or Fischer had 15 on perfect shooting, Alan Anderson scored 14 and dished 5 assists and Doron Perkins added 10 points. Dusan Kecman netted 14 for Partizan and Jan Vesely 11.
Fischer sank a baseline jumper to get Maccabi going before Lawrence Roberts registered Partizan’s first points from the line. Vesely had the hot hand for the visitors early with a monster slam and a step-back triple to give his team a 5-9 start. Maccabi bounced right back and tied the game on an Anderson three-pointer. Maric came off the bench and dished to Roberts for an easy score. Bo McCalebb stole the ball from Fischer at the top of the key and the latter committed an unsportsmanlike foul to stop him. The hosts soon regained the momentum when Wisniewski finished a fast break with a basket-plus-foul. Fischer took a seat earlier than expected with his second persona foul and his replacement, Stephane Lasme, committed his first as he unsuccessfully tried to stop Maric. Anderson sank a pair of free throws and then buried a pull-up jumper to put Maccabi ahead 16-14. McCalebb and Pnini sank free throws as the teams stayed close. The hosts tried full-court pressure, but McCalebb broke it and set up Maric for a dunk. Eidson lobbed to Lasme for a slam and a 20-20 tie. Maric committed his second offensive foul while battling Lasme for position and was replaced by Slavko Vranes. Eidson hit a jumper but an Aleksandar Rasic triple tied the game. Bluthenthal beat the buzzer with an offensive rebound and quick shot to make it 26-24 after an eventful opening quarter.
The game featured plenty of contact as playoff series should, making things difficult on the three referees. Rasic dished to Vesely in transition for a slam and then Lasme sank a foul-line jumper. The game was stopped briefly after Perkins, Anderson and McCalebb exchanged words. The game resumed only for Anderson to steal the ball and then Vesely committed an unsportsmanlike foul on Perkins, resulting in more jawing from both sides. Perkins made the free throws and Bluthenthal came through with a steal and a layup. Maric fed a cutting Kecman for a score and then drew Anderson’s third foul. The Maccabi swingman skied for a two-handed slam, but Maric overpowered Lasme for a basket-plus-foul that made it 34-32. Bluthenthal Maccabi ahead with a triple and Eidson brought the crowd to its feet with a steal and score, leading to a Partizan timeout. Vranes used hie height to claim an offensive rebound and put it back in, however a Wisniewski triple and Bluthenthal jumper gave Maccabi its first double-digit lead. The Maccabi bench was slapped with a technical foul for arguing a call, but Petar Bozic missed both free throws and then Wisniewski went coast to coast for a layup. Guy Pnini drew a charge from Aleksandar Mitrovic and Bluthenthal drew Maric’s third foul and sank 2 free throws at the other end to cap a 15-2 charge. Maric remained in and drew a foul from Bluthenthal. Branislav Dekic and Mitrovic got to the line and made free throws and Bluthenthal and Eidson countered. Perkins ended the half with a free throw to give Maccabi a 54-39 cushion.
Fischer came out strong for the second half, but so did Kecman, banking in a 24-second clock beating triple to arrow the gap to 58-47. Fischer’s third basket of the quarter followed by Anderson free throws put the hosts back in control. Bluthenthal scored in transition to increase the lead to 17 points. Maric’s basket was cancelled out by a Fischer slam and Perkins soon sank a triple to make it 69-51. Marci drew 2 fouls from Yaniv Green and sank 2 free throws, but then drew a foul from Perkins and missed twice. Perkins cored over Maric only to see Bozic drill a three. Green got his first points of the game down low, however Perkins needed to take a seat after he was called for his fourth foul. Vesely converted the resulting free throws to bring Partizan within 73-58 at the end of the third quarter.
For the third time this game, Fischer opened the quarter with a jumper. Vranes scored in the paint only to see Bluthenthal hit a jumper and Eidson triple as the Maccabi lead hit 20 for the first time this game. Kecman scored from the line, however Wisniewski attacked the basket twice, making a layup and then a free throw to grow the lead. Partizan continued to play on Maric, who scored and was fouled. Tempers flared again when Pnini hit Roberts from behind with three-and-a-half minutes remaining. Both Roberts and Pnini were assessed with technical fouls before Roberts made the 2 free throws from the original foul that was called. Still the hosts remained in control. Vesely fouled out on the next play and Pnini fired up the crows with a triple as Maccabi tied up the series 1-1.
Thursday, March 25, 2010