Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv captain Derrick Sharp came to the rescue again with 8 points in the final 9 seconds to lead the Israeli champs to a 74-70 win over EB Pau-Orthez on Thursday night at Nokia Arena. The visitors led by 12 in the third quarter and seemed in control in the fourth. But after Michael Wright made it 57-63 midway through the final period, Sharp hit a three to begin a run of 9 unanswered points that put Maccabi on top for good. C.C. Harrison looked to get his team back within 1 with a minute to go, but a spectacular block from Will Bynum and 6-for-6 free-throw shooting by Sharp iced the win. The result sees Maccabi improve to 2-1 in Group D, before a showdown next week at Tau Ceramica. Pau fell to 0-3 and has all but slipped out of contention for a spot in the Quarterfinal Playoffs. Eliyahu led Maccabi with 16 points – all in the first half. Simas Jasaitas added 13, Nikola Vujcic posted 12 points and 11 rebounds and Sharp finished with 11. Britton Johnsen led Pau with 20 – all in the first half. Aaron Miles added 15, Harrison 13 and Ricardo Greer finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Maccabi won the opening tip and opened the scoring as Eliyahu cut through the paint for a thunderous slam. Pau went inside to Ian Mahinmi to get on the board, however the young big man's impact was to be short-lived as he quickly committed two fouls and found himself on the bench. The game pace picked up and at first led to poor shots and turnovers, but then a three-point display ensued as Goran Jeretin and Simas hit for the hosts and Aaron Miles drilled one for Pau. Vujcic missed a few chippies, allowing Johnsen's triple to give the visitors their first lead, 10-12. But Vujcic found his rhythm and answered with a pair of runners. Johnsen's second three was followed by Harrison's first to make it 16-18, but after saving an offensive rebound, Eliyahu converted a three-point playt. More lead changes were in store as Wright scored his first basket inside and Eliyahu answered from the line. The Maccabi rookie then put a spin-move on Johnsen to score his 13th point and end the period with Maccabi up 23-20.
Johnsen started the second period with a turn-around jumper over Eliyahu and then turned an offensive rebound into a three-point play for a 23-25 Pau lead. Melvin Sanders added a jumper for his first points, but sloppy play on both sides saw the pace drop. Bynum ended a three-and-a-half minute Maccabi drought from the line and then Jamie Arnold scored inside. After Arnold tied the game at 29-29 from the line, Johnsen restored Pau's tiny lead from the charity stripe. An acrobatic Bynum drive was matched by Greer's offensive rebound and basket. Eliyahu's short jumper brought his team within 1, but Johnsen bettered him with a basket and foul. Johnsen reached 20 points with his third triple of the night before Jeretin's free throws ended the half with Pau on top 38-40.
Jeretin turned the ball over twice as the second half got underway, and Miles made Maccabi pay with a triple. Harrison completed a three-point play and Greer added 2 from the offensive glass as Pau reeled off 10 unanswered points for its biggest lead, 38-50. Jasaitas finally ended a four-minute scoring drought from downtown and Arnold immediately cut the gap to 7. After Pau coach Gordon Herbert took a timeout, Greer scored and a minute later Wright did the same to calm the visitors down. Arnold beat the shot-clock and Jasaitas scored inside to make it 47-54. Greer answered for Pau, but Jasaitas netted a triple a for a 50-56 scoreline after 30 minutes.
Vujcic went inside to start the fourth quarter with a basket for Maccabi, but Harrison answered in transition. Vujcic fed Jasaitas, but again it was Harrison for Pau, this time with a triple. Tal Burstein shot back with a triple, but Wright kept Pau ahead by 6 with an basket on the offensive glass. Sharp fired in a clutch three to cut the gap to 3 midway through the period and Bynum followed that with a penetration to make it 62-63. Pau used another timeout, but Harrison missed a wild three and after Bynum skied for the rebound, he cut to the basket and fed Vujcic to give Maccabi its first lead of the second half. Pau continued to struggle on the offensive end down the stretch. After Harrison was called for traveling, Vujcic scored over Wright to cap a 9-0 run with 1:30 left in the game. Harrison's foul-line jumper brought Pau within 1 with a minute to go. Sharp drove the paint for a hard basket, but missed the resulting free throw. Harrison looked to bring Pau within 1 with a layup with 20 seconds left, but Bynum flew in from the side for a spectacular block to deny the Pau player. Tel Aviv tried to run the clock down, but Pau fouled Sharp with 14.1 seconds remaining and the captain made both. Miles scored a three with 8.6 seconds left, but Sharp made his free throws, helping Maccabi ice the game to remain in the hunt for a spot in the Quarterfinal Playoffs.
Thursday, March 1, 2007