Smith shines as Maccabi beats Unicaja
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv finished the regular season with a hard-fought 81-73 victory over Unicaja Malaga in Group B. Devin Smith came up with a sterling performance with 22 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 3 steals and 2 big three-pointers late in the fourth quarter, while Jeremy Pargo collected 16 points and Brian Randle added 10 points for Maccabi, which finished Group B with a 7-3 record and second place. The reigning champs made just 29 percent of their three-pointers and just 4-of-11 free throws (36 percent), but hit 57 percent of their two-point shots, while holding Unicaja to 36 percent shooting inside the three-point line. Malaga had already booked its spot in the Top 16, but could have secured third place with a victory, instead dropping its fourth straight game and sixth in the last seven games to fall to 4-6. Unicaja, which got 11 points from Jayson Granger and 10 from Caleb Green, can still finish third if Cedevita Zagreb win at ALBA Berlin. Otherwise Malaga will finish fourth in Group B.
First quarter: Maccabi take 14-0 lead after Unicaja misses first 8 shots
Maccabi coach Guy Goodes made one change to his line-up with Alex Tyus starting instead of Sofoklis Schortsanitis alongside Yogev Ohayon, Pargo, Randle and Smith. Unicaja boss Joan Plaza swapped two players with Stefan Markovic and Kostas Vasileiadis coming in for Jon Stefansson and Granger into the starting five with Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Will Thomas and Vladimir Golubovic. Maccabi came out like gang-busters with Randle dunking right off the opening tip. Smith added back-to-back three-pointers and Randle and Pargo followed with layups for a 12-0 lead while Unicaja could not get anything going offensively. Another Randle layup made it 14-0 before Ryan Toolson came off the bench to nail a three-pointer from the right corner with 5:33 left in the first quarter for Unicaja’s first points after missing its first 8 shots and turning the ball over 3 times. Fran Vazquez added 2 free throws for the guests before a dunk by Smith. The Maccabi lead was 19-8 after Markovic and Marquez Haynes swapped three-balls. But Unicaja had found its way into the game with Toolson nailing a three-pointer and Carlos Suarez completing a three-point play before another basket by Toolson trimmed the gap to just 21-18. Schortsanitis proved too much to handle in the paint. After a previous basket, the big man hit a hook after an offensive rebound and then converted a three-point play for a 26-20 lead. Granger got a driving layup to cut the margin to 26-22 after one quarter.
Second quarter: Unicaja takes lead with 0-10 run, Maccabi finished half strong
Maccabi was able to run early in the quarter as Smith hit a layup after a steal and Sylven Landesberg threw down a dunk on the break to make it 30-22. Golubovic got Malaga on the board with 2 free throws and followed a Granger three with a right-handed hook shot. Stefansson then came down and nailed a three-pointer from the left side to give Unicaja its first lead at 30-32. Landesberg stopped the 0-10 run before Thomas flushed in a miss for a 32-34 Unicaja lead. Maccabi finished the final two minutes of the half strong with Pargo putting in an acrobatic hanging twirling reverse layup to even it at 34-34. Ohayon followed with a layup and a three from the right side to push Tel Aviv ahead 39-34. Nate Linhart’s layup had Maccabi up 41-36 before Mo Soluade’s free throw made it 41-37 at halftime.
Third quarter: Maccabi uses 13-2 run, but Unicaja won’t back down
Unicaja opened the second half with a three-point play by Thomas and Randle got Maccabi on the board with a shot off the glass to make it 43-40. Unicaja knotted the game at 43-43 with Green stepping behind the line and nailing a three-pointer from the right wing before Kuzminskas free throws for a 43-45 lead. Pargo sandwiched two layups around a Tyus dunk off an Ohayon steal and Smith’s layup off the glass finished the 8-0 run for a 51-45 Maccabi cushion. Even though Golubovic stopped the spurt, Maccabi continued to get out on the break with Pargo completing a three-point play and Smith dunking after a steal by Randle for a 56-47 lead. Just like at the start of the game, Unicaja would not back down with Markovic and Granger hitting back-to-back three-pointers to get the guests to within 56-53. The lead was 58-54 after three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Smith hits big shots to secure win
Schortsanitis opened the quarter with a bucket, but watched as Granger hit a three to cut the gap to 60-57. But Landesberg answered right back with a three and Pargo’s basket had the hosts up 65-57. Golubovic put back an offensive rebound and Stefansson hit a jumper and a three-pointer from the left wing to bring Unicaja to within 66-64 halfway through the fourth quarter. Pargo got up for a dunk to make it 69-64 only to see Green knock down a three for a 69-67 ball game. But Smith punched right back with two straight three-pointers and Haynes hit a layup as Maccabi opened a 77-67 lead with two minutes to play. Green was able to stop the bleeding, but the game was decided by then.
Thursday, December 18, 2014