Maccabi survives late Crvena Zvezda rally on Blu free throws
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv survived Crvena Zvezda Telekom Belgrade’s fervent comeback to pick up a 76-78 road win at Hala Pionir on Thursday. After the hosts rallied from an 18-point deficit to tie the game at 76-76 on Blake Schilb free throws, David Blu made 2 free throws and secured a key rebound all in the final 12 seconds to secure the win for Maccabi, which improved to 5-2 for second place in Group D. The loss – Zvezda’s third by 4 points or less at home this season – dropped the team to 2-5. With All-Euroleague center Shawn James out for the visitors, Sofoklis Schortsanitis rose to the occasion with 22 points in 17 minutes for Maccabi. Devin Smith added 11 points and Yogev Ohayon dished 9 assists. DeMarcus Nelson and Ivan Radenovic each scored 12 and Schilb added 11 for Zvezda. Up 33-35 at halftime, Maccabi scored the first 7 points of the third quarter and Alex Tyus later starred in a 0-8 run that made it 37-52. The lead grew to 46-64 early in the third quarter before Radenovic and co. rallied to create an exciting finish.
First quarter: three-point shots give Zvezda the lead
Smith got Maccabi going with a three-pointer but Nelson quickly answered from downtown and Boban Marjanovic dunked for a 5-3 Zvezda lead. Joe Ingles fed Schortsanitis for a layup which Luka Mitrovic erased with a basket at the other end. Ingles stepped up with a layup but Schilb finished a two-chance Zvezda offense with a bomb from downtown. Schortsanitis scored again but Branko Lazic did better with a big triple, good for a 13-9 Zvezda margin. Guy Pnini joined the three-point shootout and even when Marjanovic scored again, Schortsanitis shined with consecutive layups to put Maccabi back ahead, 15-16. Jaka Blazic became the fourth Zvezda player to strike from downtown and Mitrovic soon gave the hosts a 20-16 lead. Schortsanitis kept pacing Maccabi with another layup but a free throws by Radenovic allowed Zvezda to keep a four-point lead, 22-18, after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Schortsanitis gives Maccabi the lead
Blazic scored again early in the second quarter but Smith answered from downtown to keep the guests within 24-21. Tyus, who saw extended playing time tonight due to James's injury, scored around the basket but a layup by Nelson gave Zvezda some fresh air at 26-23. It didn't last long, however, as Oyahon downed a jumper and Blu copied him right after that to put Maccabi back ahead, 26-27. Mitrovic tried to change things with a layup and Schortsanitis returned to the floor and immediately split foul shots. He soon added a put-back basket for a 28-30 Maccabi edge. Charles Jenkins provided a highlight with a wild three-pointer - and the free throw that came with it, igniting the crowd at 32-30. It didn't last long, however, as Pnini hit free throws and Ricky Minard, who had been scoreless until that moment, nailed a three-pointer which allowed Maccabi to return to the locker rooms with a 33-35 lead.
Third quarter: Maccabi rolls after the break
Schortsanitis took over with a big three-point play after the break and a jumper by Oyahon boosted the guests' margin to 33-40. Zvezda could not find the way to the basket and a jumper by Pnini capped a 0-12 run which bridged between both halves. Blazic tried to change things with free throws which an unstoppable Schortsanitis erased with a close basket. Rasko Katic and Pnini traded baskets and a dunk by Tyus made it a double-digit game, 37-48. Maccabi kept rolling, as Oyahon scored off a steal and Tyus added free throws which made it a 15-point game, 37-52. Jenkins got the crowd involved with a three-pointer and even when Ingles answered from downtown, Marko Simonovic hit his own shot from beyond the arc for a 43-55 Maccabi margin. Tyus dunked again, Simonovic and Ingles exchanged three-pointers again and a layup by Tyrese Rice - his first points - allowed Maccabi to get a 46-62 margin at the end of the third quarter.
Fourth quarter: Zvezda rallies, Blu steps up big
Schortsanitis made free throws to give Maccabi its biggest lead of the game, 46-64, early in the fourth quarter. Zvezda, pushed by an incredible crowd at Pionir Arena, did not surrender. A jumper by Lazic ignited the hosts' comeback and a layup by Radenovic gave Zvezda hope at 50-64. The hosts were all over the place on defense and back-to-back three-pointers by Nelson and Schilb brought Zvezda within single digits, 56-64, after a 10-0 run. Smith scored down low but Schilb did better with another triple. Rice answered from downtown and added a layup with seemed to seal the outcome at 59-71. Radenovic kept pacing Zvezda with a layup-plus-foul and erased Smith's layup with free throws. Nelson shined with consecutive layups and a three-pointer by Simonovic brought the hosts back in the game, 71-73. Schortsanitis scored down low but an unstoppable Radenovic struck from downtown to make it a one-point game, 74-75. Devin split free throws and Schilb did not miss from the foul line to tie the game, 76-76, already in the final minute. Blu drew a foul and split free throws with 11.4 seconds, then grabbed a key defensive rebound and returned to the line to give Maccabi a 76-78 edge with 1.5 seconds left - missing his second shot on purpose to run the game clock down.
Thursday, November 28, 2013