Maccabi Electra coasts to seventh straight home win
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv took another step towards a place in the playoffs with a 77-67 win over Zalgiris Kaunas on Thursday night at Nokia Arena. The victory improved Maccabi’s record to 7-3, good for third place in Group F. Zalgiris remained last with a 1-9 record. David Blu hit a pair of triples in the final minute of the second quarter, and Maccabi kept the visitors scoreless for five minutes at the start of the third, putting together a 15-2 run for 47-33 lead. The visitors never came closer than 6 points the rest of the way, as Tyrese Rice, Ricky Hickman and Sofoklis Schortsanitis led the hosts to victory. Rice finished with 19 points and 6 assists, Hickman netted 14, Guy Pnini bagged 11 points and Schortsanitis finished with 10 for Maccabi. Justin Dentmon had 14 points for the visitors, and Robertas Javtokas collected 12 points, 9 rebounds and 4 blocks. Arturas Milaknis and Sarunas Jasikevicius, in his return to Tel Aviv, had 11 points apiece.
First quarter: Teams trade leads early on
Sofoklis Schortsanitis fought his way for a layup to start the scoring, and after Dentmon and Yogev Ohayon traded triples, Schortsanitis stole the ball and raced for a rare fastbreak layup and 7-3. Zalgiris answered with a floater from Martynas Pocius and a put-back from Tadas Klimavicius. After Schortsanitis scored in the trenches again, Guy Pnini nailed a three-pointer for the hosts and a 12-9 lead. But Robertas Javtokas hit 5 of 6 free throws, Dentmon drove for a layup and Pocius buried a triple to make it 14-17. There was a lot of desire and hustle on both ends from the start, but Maccabi's defense stepped up, keeping the visitors scoreless for more than four minutes. Maccabi briefly regained the lead with close-range baskets from Rice and Joe Ingles. However, Milaknis nailed a three for the visitors in the final minute, before Ingles drove for an easy layup just before the buzzer, making it 20-20 after the first quarter.
Second quarter: Blu's triples give Maccabi strong finish to the half
Milaknis hit a baseline jumper at the start of the second quarter, before Rice made a floater and Hickman a layup for the hosts. Milaknis added a triple to the visitors' tally, as the two teams continued trading leads, but Hickman also scored from downtown to make it 27-25. Vytenis Cizauskas scored twice on a fastbreak, tying the score at 29-29, but Maccabi finished the quarter strong. Rice scored a driving layup, and after Dentmon sank a fading jumper on the other end, David Blu nailed a pair of triples in the final minute of the half, extending the lead to 40-33 at halftime.
Third quarter: Hosts use defense to pull away and take control
Devin Smith buried a corner triple to open the half and Rice added a layup. While Maccabi held the visitors without a single point for almost five minutes, Schortsanitis scored a layup to make it 47-33. The big man soon committed his fourth personal foul, before Dentmon snapped Zalgiris’s drought. After Rice drove the baseline for a layup, Jasikevicius hit a floater, and Milaknis buried his third three-pointer, cutting it to 49-41. Dentmon got into foul-trouble with 4 fouls, but Zalgiris kept hanging close. Hickman and Cizauskas traded jumpers, then Rice and Jasikevicius exchanged baskets. Javtokas scored inside to close within 7 points, but Pnini nailed a three-pointer just before the buzzer for a 57-47 Tel Aviv lead after three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Hickman, Schortsanitis and Rice seal the deal
Pnini and Hickman hit three-pointers in the fourth quarter to make it 63-49, but Klimavicius hit one from downtown for Zalgiris. Baskets from Jasikevicius and Dentmon cut it to 65-57, giving Zalgiris hope to come back. Another pair of baskets from Jasikevicius got the visitors to 67-61, but Hickman scored a layup after a great pass from Schortsanitis, and Rice nailed a triple for a 72-63 lead with less than three minutes remaining. Javtokas and Lipkevycius each split free throws, and Schortsanitis sealed it with a tip-in. In the remaining time, Javtokas had a put-back, and Rice answered with a layup-plus-free throw, rounding out the scoring.
Thursday, March 13, 2014