2021-22Regular SeasonRound 6
October 26, 2021 CET: 20:05

Maccabi sinks Zalgiris for third straight win

Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv registered its third consecutive win, using its best defensive effort of the season en route to a 76-62 victory over visiting Zalgiris Kaunas at Menora Mivtachim Arena on Tuesday night. It was Maccabi's third consecutive win that improved it to 4-2, while Zalgiris remains the only winless team after Round 6. Maccabi took control with Derrick Williams and Ante Zizic dominating inside in the first half and held a 39-30 halftime lead before extending the margin to double digits in the third. Maccabi led by as many as 19 points early in the fourth quarter before Zalgiris trimmed the deficit in the final 4 minutes of the game. Williams collected 17 points plus 7 rebounds and Zizic had 14 points and 9 rebounds in a victory. James Nunnally scored 15, and Keenan Evans 13 points for Maccabi. Arturas Milaknis netted 17 points on 5-for-9 three-point shooting for Zalgiris, and Josh Nebo had 10 points and 9 rebounds in a losing effort.

In the opening 3 minutes of the game, Zizic and Williams scored twice each before Evans launched a pair of fast breaks as the hosts opened a 14-2 lead. Janis Strelnieks snapped a 14-0 run with a triple before Milaknis scored 11 consecutive points, including back-to-back-to-back threes that put Zalgiris in front 14-16. Lukas Lekavicius and Paulius Jankunas helped the visitors to a 16-20 lead after 10 minutes.

Nunnally opened the scoring in the second with a transition triple, before Williams had a monster dunk and a three-point play to restore Maccabi's lead, 24-22. After a jumper from Strelnieks, Nunnally, Williams and Zizic put together an 8-0 run to open a 32-24 margin. Emmanuel Mudiay ended that run, and Nebo kept the visitors in range with a floater, but Kameron Taylor hit a triple to help Maccabi to a 39-30 halftime lead.

Evans had a pair of runners to increase the margin to 13 points, but Niels Giffey scored 5 points, including a triple, to keep the visitors in range. But Williams hit from the outside and Nunnally twice inside to make it 53-39. A pair of baskets from Lekavicius got the margin back to single digits, but Jalen Reynolds finished the quarter with a three-point play to make it 58-46 going into the final 10 minutes.

Reynolds opened the fourth quarter with a close-range basket before a triple from Williams sparked a 7-0 run that blew the game wide open, 67-48. Milaknis hit from long range twice, with Mantas Kalnietis scoring twice in between, giving the visitors a glimmer of hope. Zalgiris held Maccabi without a field goal for more than 5 minutes as the visitors cut it to 72-62, but Nunnally iced the game with 90 seconds to go.

Williams, Zizic were Maccabi's key performers

Derrick Williams and Ante Zizic set the tone for Maccabi in this one, especially giving the hosts confidence on offense from the get-go. The two dominated inside against Marek Blazevic and kept Josh Nebo busy at all times. They sparked Maccabi in the first and then again in the second quarter as the hosts built a lead they never relinquished.

Williams played 33 minutes and scored 17 points, including sinking 2 triples on as many attempts. He also pulled down 7 rebounds. Zizic played with great confidence around the rims from the opening tip-off, finishing the game with 14 points on 7-of-10 shooting and also pulling down 9 rebounds. For both players, these were their best performances of the young season and they sparked Maccabi to its third consecutive win.

Turning defense into offense fueled Maccabi

Maccabi allowed 62 points, which is the fewest this season, and tied for fewest since Round 8 of last season when the team allowed 57 points at home versus... Zalgiris. In this one, Maccabi just had a slight rebounding edge, 39-35, had 4 fewer turnovers and 2 more steals. But Maccabi made great use of those slim advantages.

The two other key numbers in this victory for Maccabi were 11 fastbreak points and 22 points off turnovers. What's more, Maccabi allowed 0 fastbreak points and finished with a 23-9 advantage in points off turnovers. Turning defense into offense paved the way for Maccabi to win.

Both teams suffered from three-point woes

Both teams struggled shooting the ball from long range. Maccabi made just 4 of 19 three-point shots (21.1%) and is shooting just 31.1% for the season. Interestingly, Maccabi fired the majority of those shots in the second and fourth quarters. The hosts were 0 for 2 in the first quarter, and 1 for 1 from three-point range in the third quarter. But despite its own misfirings, Maccabi had the upper hand in this game because it found a way to control Zalgiris's outside shooting. The visitors opened the game with 4 three-point daggers in the first quarter, 1 from Janis Strelnieks and 3 from Arturas Milaknis, but they needed 10 attempts for them. For the rest of the game, Zalgiris shot 3 for 16 from outside the arc. Of those 7 triples Zalgiris made, 5 belonged to Milaknis while five different players attempted but did not make a three-point shot in this game.

James Nunnally - Maccabi Playtyka Tel Aviv - EB21
Tuesday, October 26, 2021
Attendance: 9745
By Quarter1234
Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv16231918
Zalgiris Kaunas20101616
End of Quarter1234
Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv16395876
Zalgiris Kaunas20304662
Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
1 WILBEKIN, SCOTTIE 27:38 5 1/5 0/4 3/3   3 3 6 5 2     2 3 10
2 EVANS, KEENAN 25:09 13 4/4 0/3 5/6 1 1 2 4 2       2 6 21
4 CALOIARO, ANGELO 22:25   0/1 0/3     2 2 4 1       1   2
6 WILLIAMS, DERRICK 33:08 17 4/8 2/2 3/3 1 6 7 1       1   3 23
7 TAYLOR, KAMERON 20:27 3 0/2 1/3   1   1 1   1   1     -1
8 REYNOLDS, JALEN 17:34 7 3/9   1/1 2 6 8 1   1     3 2 8
9 SORKIN, ROMAN 3:16     0/1                   2   -3
12 DIBARTOLOMEO, JOHN 4:33               1   1       1 1
21 NUNNALLY, JAMES 23:24 15 6/9 1/3 0/1 1 1 2 1     1   1 4 16
23 ZIZIC, ANTE 17:48 14 7/10     3 6 9     1 1   1 1 20
26 LESSORT, MATHIAS 4:38 2 1/2     2   2     1       1 3
99 ZIV, IFTAH DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Team           1 2 3     3          
Totals 200:00 76 26/50 4/19 12/14 12 27 39 19 8 10 2 2 12 21 100
        52% 21.1% 85.7%
Min: Minutes played; Pts: Points; 2FG M-A: 2-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); 3FG M-A: 3-point Field Goals (Made-Attempted); FT M-A: Free Throws (Made-Attempted); Rebounds: O (Offensive), D (Defensive), T (Total); As: Assists; St: Steals; To: Turnovers; Bl: Blocks (Fv: In Favor / Ag: Against); Fouls: Cm (Commited), Rv (Received); PIR: Performance Index Rating
Zalgiris Kaunas
  Rebounds Blocks Fouls
# Player Min Pts 2FG 3FG FT O D T As St To Fv Ag Cm Rv PIR
1 BLAZEVIC, MAREK 13:21   0/2     1 1 2   1 2     4 2 -3
4 LEKAVICIUS, LUKAS 20:39 6 3/8 0/1   1   1 5 1 1     2   4
7 NEBO, JOSH 26:39 10 4/7   2/2 4 5 9     1 1   2 2 16
8 MUDIAY, EMMANUEL 13:57 2 1/4 0/1     2 2 5   2         3
9 KALNIETIS, MANTAS 16:31 6 3/4 0/4     1 1 2   3     2 1  
13 JANKUNAS, PAULIUS 18:52 2   0/1 2/2   3 3           2 3 5
16 LUKOSIUNAS, KAROLIS DNP - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
21 MILAKNIS, ARTURAS 22:21 17 1/1 5/9     1 1           3   11
32 STRELNIEKS, JANIS 24:07 7 2/4 1/5     2 2 1 1 1   1 3 1 1
55 GIFFEY, NIELS 24:58 9 2/4 1/4 2/2   5 5   1 2 1   3 2 8
92 ULANOVAS, EDGARAS 18:35 3 0/2 0/1 3/3 1 1 2 1 2 2   1   1 3
Team           2 5 7     1         6
Totals 200:00 62 16/36 7/26 9/9 9 26 35 14 6 15 2 2 21 12 54
        44.4% 26.9% 100%
Head coach: ZDOVC, JURE

Head Coaches

Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv

"Congratulations to our players for the win and the game in general. I think we had a very good game, except between the fifth and 10th minute, these 5 minutes when we mainly lost our concentration on defense. The rest of the game, we started well, we continued the second quarter really well, allowed only 10 points in that quarter, and scored 23 on offense. In the second half, we were mostly with a double-digit difference. To me, it was very important we also had a balance on offense, moving the ball, we had some beautiful basketball plays with a pass and extra pass to find the best option, as we want to play. What we saw on the court, we deserved 100% to win. And I want to thank our fans who helped us with their voices, they were here tonight and we expect them to be here against Barcelona to help us.

"Their defense was focused on Scottie. It was tough for him to score, but Scottie knows how to help the team, not only scoring but also doing a different job. Defending, he has 5 steals and 6 assists, and he is +17 when he was on the court. I also want to mention Angelo Caloiaro, he had the highest +/- tonight, +25, even though he did not score a lot. With him on the court, we completely took out Ulanovas for the game, who is very experienced and a very big power for them to score and create. And after Milaknis created us problems in the first quarter, Kameron Taylor stopped him after that. Derrick Williams was excellent, not only offensively but he stepped up, he had great percentages. We have Zizic back after the injury, he helped us a lot. Nunnally is stable with his performances, Evans did a really good job, and I expect more players to be ready to play."

Zalgiris Kaunas

"Congratulations to coach and Maccabi players for the win. We came in a bad moment, we have two difficult games against teams that did not start the season very well and they are looking for the wins against us, who also struggle with a lot of problems. You can see, in the last moment we found out we have to play without Tyler Cavanaugh.

"I am not so disappointed with the game. We found in the end players who believed we can win, which is the most important to beat Maccabi in Tel Aviv, you must believe. In crucial moments, we played hard, we were behind 6 or 8 points, and in the moments when the game can turn either way, we made two mistakes, they punished us and from there the game goes in the wrong direction. We did not give up, we tried, and that is what makes me a little bit satisfied. I told the players to believe and sooner or later we will break this wall and get the first win."


Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv
"Besides that 5-minute stretch in the first quarter, I think we were really solid. I think this is another game under our belt where we play together and built more chemistry. Obviously, we did not have a ton of games in the preseason, so I think as the season goes on we are continuing to get better, which is what we want."
Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv
"It might be my hairdo, everybody keeps telling me I should keep it for Thursday, so I might keep it for Thursday. Tonight I just wanted to be aggressive in every part of the game. Whether that'd be attacking to find my teammates, or looking for my own shot. Defensively, diving on the floor, getting steals, I just wanted to be all over the place."
Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv
"This is my best game so far. Just being aggressive. My teammates believing in me, that gives you extra confidence. Especially when you haven't played as you think you should. We just want to take it game by game. It is a big week for us, we started off with a great win. Next we have Barca."
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