Maccabi holds off late Zalgiris charge 27
Maccabi Tel Aviv held off a late Zalgiris Kaunas charge for an 81-74 victory on Thursday at Menora Mivtachim Arena.
Norris Cole scored a season-high 26 points off the bench to pace Maccabi, which improved to 6-4. The hosts led by as many as 16, but Arturas Milaknis made 4 fourth-quarter three-pointers, including a pair on a 0-10 run to start the quarter, as Zalgiris rallied to within 3 before Pierre Jackson and Jonah Bolden helped Maccabi hold on. Jackson finished with 12 points and 6 assists and Bolden posted 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals and 4 blocks in a standout defensive performance. Maccabi made 10 of 18 three-point shots (55.6%), while Zalgiris slumped in shooting 7 of 28 (28%) from downtown in one of the keys to the game.
Milaknis finished with 19 points, Kevin Pangos recorded 12 points and 6 assist and Paulius Jankunas added 11 points for the Lithuanian champs, who fell to 5-5.
Artiom Parakhouski scored on three successive possessions to help Maccabi jump out to a 5-2 lead. However when Maccabi stopped going inside, Brandon Davies scored twice to put Zalgiris up 5-8. The offenses heated in the middle of the opening quarter, with Alex Tyus stepping up for the hosts with 8 points, including an alley-oop slam to beat the first-quarter buzzer that made it 15-14.
The lead changed hands with each of the first four baskets of the second quarter. Edgaras Ulanovas tied it at 20-20 with a put-back. After the visitors missed seven times from downtown, Pangos buried a three-pointer to put Zalgiris in front 22-23. DeShaun Thomas sank Maccabi’s first triple and added a basket on the break before Parakhouski’s free throws made it 31-27. Maccabi extended the lead with points from the line from Parakhouski, Jackson and Bolden before Cole drilled a triple to cap an 11-2 charge that gave the hosts their first double-digit lead, 39-29, at the break.
Little changed at the start of the second half as Zalgiris continued to struggle from long range, while Cole followed a two-point jumper with a three-pointer as the margin grew to 16. Jankunas got going with a pair of mid-range jumper as the visitors closed to within 49-37 midway through the third quarter. Michael Roll stretched the difference to 16 once more, but Jankunas and Davies kept the hope alive for Zalgiris. The visitors started to press with mixed results and Cole ended the quarter with a jumper for a 65-51 lead.
Milaknis drilled a pair of threes to start the fourth quarter and bring his team within 8. After a timeout, a layup by Jankunas and Paulius Valinskas’s tip-in caped a 0-10 run that made it 65-61. Bolden dunked to end a five-and-a-half minute long scoring drought for the hosts, but Milaknis’s next triple made it a 3-point game. Jackson and Cole sandwiched threes around another Milaknis three as Zalgiris continued to believe. However Jackson’s steal and free throws and a three by Bolden helped Maccabi remain in control to hold on for a tough win.