Partizan over Maccabi Electra 77-85
Partizan Belgrade roared back from a 21-point first-half deficit to stun Maccabi Electra 77-85, handing the Israeli champs their first ever loss in the Quarterfinal Playoffs at Nokia Arena. Dusan Kecman drilled 7 of 9 three-pointers and finished with a career-high 29 points as the Serbian champs grabbed the home-court advantage in the best-of-five series for a spot in the Final Four next month in Paris. Game 2 takes place on Thursday at the same site and Games 3 and 4 are next week at Belgrade Arena. Game 5, if necessary, will be back in Tel Aviv. Maccabi though it would romp to victory after Andrew Wisniewski scored 10 points in a 27-12 opening quarter. The lead reached 21 in the second quarter and settled at 46-32 at halftime. Kecman scored 10 points in the third quarter alone as Partizan stated to claw its way back. Lawrence Roberts sank a pair of triples early in the fourth quarter to tie the game and then Kecman put Partizan ahead, capping a 1-12 start to the fourth quarter. Maccabi, which dominated the fourth quarters in its last two Top 16 games to reach the playoffs with home-court advantage, struggled the rest of the way, even after they briefly regained the lead and Partizan put the game away from the line. Bo McCalebb added 12 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists for the winners, while Aleks Maric scored 10 and drew 11 fouls and Roberts finished with 8 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. Doron Perkins paced Maccabi with 13 points and 6 assists, Alan Anderson scored 12, D’Or Fischer had 10 points and 7 rebounds and Wisniewski finished with 10 points in defeat.
Fischer opened the scoring for the hosts with a soft baseline jumper. Partizan used its size advantage to attack the offensive glass and get Kecman a basket. Slavko Vranes gave Partizan the lead with a free throw, but Wisniewski answered with a three. Perkins made an early entry after Anderson took a seat with 2 quick fouls. Guy Pnini fueled the hosts with a triple from the top of the key and Fischer stepped outside to nail a jumper over Vranes that made it 10-3. Partizan looked to change things after a timeout by bringing in Maric for Vranes, but Perkins scored down low and made the resulting free throw to put the hosts up by double figures. Kecman showed his experience with a pair of timely three-pointers, but Wisniewski also connected from downtown to keep his team in control. Perkins set Wisniewski for a layup and Pnini sank free throws to take the lead to 11. Maric got involved with a basket down low only to see Chuck Eidson bring the crowd to its feet with a triple. Maric attacked down low, drew a foul and sank a free throw. The Partizan press resulted in a steal, but Partizan did not convert and Derrick Sharp sank a pair of free throws for a 27-12 lead after 10 minutes.
Maccabi tried to double-team Maric whenever he touched the ball, something that frustrated the Partizan big man. Stephane Lasme’s jumper further extended the Maccabi lead. Maric was able to draw fouls on successive possessions, but only got 1 free throw out of them. Maccabi continued to roll on offense as David Bluthenthal blasted a triple and Lasme’s grabbed an offensive rebound and fed Eidson for a slam and a 34-13 lead. Partizan broke the Maccabi press and got a layup for Kecman, who then buried a three on the next trip down the floor. Anderson and Bo McCalebb traded baskets. McCalebb added another, but Perkins drilled an open triple to keep Maccabi far ahead. The hosts experimented with a zone to stop Maric, but were punished by Aleksandar Rasic who nailed an open three. Some crisp passing set up McCalebb for a layup to narrow the gap to 14. Bluthenthal responded with a triple off a pick-and-pop with Perkins. Maric went through three Maccabi players for a basket. Anderson countered from the line, but Branislav Dekic beat the buzzer to make it 46-32 at halftime.
Partizan came out for the second half ready to fight. Jan Vesely hit a triple and Maric scored from the line to cut the deficit to 9. Fischer answered back with a jumper and Anderson stole the ball was fouled and made 2 free throws. Maccabi looked to regain the momentum, but Maric rejected Anderson underneath. However, Fischer stopped Maric at the other end and then Maric was called for a fool trying to block Pnini. The game continued to produce thrills as Petar Bozic connected for a triple to make it 51-42, but Pnini responded in style and Anderson dunked to lift the lead to 14. Maric passed out of a double-team and got the ball back to draw a foul from Wisniewski, but made only 1 free throw. Fischer made a jumper at the other end. Vesely followed a fast break as a trailer and got a slam, Kecman nailed another three and then a layup to cap a 0-8 spurt that made it 58-51, silenced the Maccabi crowd and caused head coach Pini Gershon to talk things over in a timeout. Lasme sank a baseline jumper, however McCalebb matched him from the line. Eidson sank a long jumper and the Maccabi pressure led to an Anderson slam. Kecman reached 20 points from the line and then sank a triple – his fifth of the night – to narrow the gap to 6. Perkins stormed the basket in the final second of the quarter to put his team up 66-58.
Rasic made it a 5-point game with a triple at the start of the fourth quarter. Maric drew his 10th foul of the night in the paint and then Roberts connected from downtown to silence the crowd and make it 66-64. Anderson missed a dunk on the break, but Partizan did not capitalize as the Maccabi defense tightened up. Eidson extended the Maccabi lead with a free throw. Roberts calmly spotted up at the other end and tied the game with a triple. Then Kecman wrapped up a 1-12 start to the fourth quarter with a triple that gave Partizan its first lead since the opening minutes. Perkins responded with a three-pointer to make it 70-70 midway through the quarter. Vesely attacked the rim, but missed a slam attempt. Fischer’s jumper got the lucky roll and dropped at the other side to put the hosts back on top. Kecman continued his brilliant shooting night with a triple and a Partizan lead. McCalebb stole the ball and darted for a layup and a 72-75 lead. Bluthenthal then tied the game with a three. Vasely scored down low and then Vranes corrected a McCalebb miss to make it 75-79 with just over two minutes remaining. Perkins answered from the line and Maccabi stole the ball, but Anderson missed a difficult layup. Maric missed a shot over the double team and Maccabi called a timeout to set up with 41.2 seconds remaining. Perkins drove into Maric and missed. Fischer grabbed the rebound, but had the ball stripped and Perkins quickly fouled McCalebb with 27.5 second to go. McCalebb made both to make it a two-possession game. Maccabi went to Perkins again, but he missed under the basket and Eidson fouled Milosevic with 21.8 seconds left as the crowd started to leave the arena. Vesely and Aleksandar Mitrovic also made free throws to finalize an impressive comeback and a Partizan win.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010