Maccabi Electra routed Caja Laboral 81-60
Maccabi Electra took control of its Quarterfinal Playoffs series with an 81-60 over Caja Laboral in front of a packed house at Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv. Despite the victory that brings Maccabi within a victory of a return to the Euroleague Final Four, it was a bittersweet night for the yellow-and-blue crew after star guard Doron Perkins suffered a knee injury in the second quarter, was helped off the court and taken to a Tel Aviv hospital for treatment. On the floor it was all Maccabi as the one stat that was all Laboral’s way in the first games – three-point shooting – went the other way and helped the hosts ring up a big win. The hosts made 11 of 25 (44%) in taking control of the game, while Laboral was just 5 of 22 (22.7%) after making half of its three-point tries in Games 1 and 2. Jeremy Pargo sank a pair of triples in a 10-0 second quarter run and the Maccabi defense held Laboral scoreless for over five minutes en route to a 41-30 halftime lead. David Blu nailed three triples early in the third quarter and Maccabi put the game out of reach early. Pargo finished with 23 points and David Blu added 16, while Sofoklis Schortsanitis posted 9 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists for the winners. Mirza Teletovic paced Laboral with 14 points, Stanko Barac scored 11 and David Logan 10.
Logan, making his first start of the series, came out firing, but missed from downtown and Pargo capitalized with a layup at the other end. Laboral’s other first-time starter, Esteban Batista, converted a three-point play for Laboral’s first points, but turned the ball over on his team’s next possession. The pace picked up with Teletovic scoring twice for the visitors, while Lior Eliyahu and Schortsanitis generated points for the home team. Barac came in for Batista and was soon called for his first foul on Big Sofo, who put Maccabi ahead 9-7 from the line. Barac tied the game with a two-handed jam, but pushed Schortsanitis on the way down court and got his second foul. A Teletovic triple made it 11-12 midway through the quarter. After a timeout, Chuck Eidson made a three before Barac scored down low to tie the game. Doron Perkins and Teletovic traded triples before the contest moved outside and Pargo, Fernando San Emeterio and Blu reeled off three threes in a row to make it 22-20. Brad Olseon came off the bench for Laboral to tie the game, but Pargo helped the hosts to a 24-23 lead at the end of the quarter.
Perkins was fouled on his way to the basket and landed badly seconds into the second quarter. Nokia Arena was silent as he was attended to and Perkins needed help to get to the locker room. Milan Macvan stepped up for the hosts, while Teletovic remained the first offensive option for the visitors. Schortsanitis tipped in Pargo’s miss to make it 30-25 before a Laboral timeout. Great ball movement set Pargo up for a triple and a turnover led to another as Laboral took another timeout down 11. Maccabi’s defense locked down the Laboral attack, but a few misses down low by Schortsanitis prevented Maccabi from increasing the lead. Marcelinho Huertas ended a 10-0 Maccabi run and a five-minute Laboral drought with a triple. Blu sank a floater before San Emeterio matched him with free throws, but Macvan buried a triple on the halftime buzzer to make it 41-30 at the break.
With Pargo a marked man after his 15-point first half, Laboral keyed on the guard defensively, but Blu took advantage – and exception to a Teletovic three-pointer – to heat up from downtown. Blu dropped three long-range bombs in the first three minutes of the third quarter to extend the home lead to 15 points. The visitors had trouble containing Schortsanitis inside as well: when the big man wasn´t powering for close-range looks below the rim, he was exhibiting good court vision, hitting Eidson for an assist from the elbow. The hosts were in full control at the midway point of the quarter, up 54-37, and cramping up the Spanish champ’s offense with a 2-3 zone. Marcelinho had trouble picking up Pargo’s quick dribble ate the other end, and the Maccabi guard burned the visiting playmaker for a three-point play before Lior Eliyahu capped off a fast break with a dunk that stretched the lead to 21. Pressed for time and buckets and unable to shake Maccabi’s defensive sets, Caja Laboral opted to push the ball some, yet still could not avoid incurring in a 24-second clock violation for its 9th turnover. Searching for Teletovic but unable to set up its go-to scorer, the visitors’ best weapon was the trademark Huertas teardrop when plays broke down, but it was Logan who gave his team some semblance of hope with a three-point play. The optimism lasted little, however, as Guy Pnini swished another triple and Pargo drained another with a hand in his face to cap off the quarter at a 69-45 advantage.
Laboral intensified its full-court pressure on the Maccabi guards in order to disrupt their rhythm and sway some of the momentum. With the crowd rejoicing in the home team’s performance, the visitors were able to muster some transition baskets through Logan, which prompted head coach David Blatt to call timeout as a safety measure with less than five minutes remaining and a 23-point lead. With both teams already thinking about Thursday’s Game 4, the visitors worked to get something going in order to leave the Nokia Arena with some positives. But Maccabi stayed disciplined and kept piling up steals, never holding less than a 21-point lead until the final buzzer.
Tuesday, March 29, 2011