Maccabi survives thriller as Rice sinks his former team
In a thriller that came down to the final shot, Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv registered its third consecutive win in Group D by edging Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius 74-76 in the Lithuanian capital on Thursday. Maccabi improved to 3-1 in Group D while Rytas dropped to 1-3. Devin Smith paced the winners with 18 points. Ricky Hickman added 11 while Sofoklis Schortsanitis and Shawn James each had 10 for Maccabi. Martynas Gecevicius led Rytas with 24 points. Renaldas Seibutis added 15 and Omar Cook had 10 for the hosts. Maccabi led by as many as 18 before Seibutas inspired a Rytas comeback. The hosts look a 1-point fourth quarter lead, but Hickman and Tyrese Rice made free throws to put the visitors in front. However a three-pointer by Gecevicius tied the game at 74-74 with 12.6 seconds left. A floater in the closing seconds by Rice allowed Maccabi to beat his former team, as Seibutis could not hit an off-balance shot from downtown at the buzzer.
First quarter: Great offense gives Maccabi the lead
Smith got Maccabi going with a driving layup and a three-pointer by Ricky Hickman gave the guests a 0-5 lead. Rytas was held scoreless for more than two minutes and missed its first four shots until Seibutis stepped up with a fast break basket. Hickman nailed his second triple, but Steponas Babrauskas answered from downtown. Joe Ingles joined the three-point shootout and made it 5-11 for Maccabi. Seibutis and Smith traded baskets before a corner triple by Ingles boosted the guests' lead to 7-16. James shined with a fast break basket, which Gecevicius erased with a mid-range jumper. Andreas Glyniadakis tried to change things with a backdoor layup. Former Rytas guard Tyrese Rice matched him with a one-handed floater. Seibutis scored off a steal. Ingles stayed on fire with a fade-away jumper. A three-pointer by Omar Cook brought Rytas a bit closer, 16-22. Gecevicius provided a highlight with an off-balance basket, but back-to-back jump hooks by Schortsanitis established an 18-26 Maccabi edge after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Hosts close the gap, but visitors pull away again
Milenko Tepic fed Gecevicius for a three-pointer early in the second quarter. Maccabi had started to miss open shots and Tepic nailed a jumper off the dribble to bring Rytas as close as 23-26. Maccabi had been held scoreless for almost three minutes when Smith stepped up with a high-flying tip-in. Yogev Ohayon added a big block on Tautvydas Lideka before he struck from downtown. David Blu buried his trademark corner triple to cause Rytas to call timeout at 23-34, after a 0-8 run. Seibutis made free throws, which Schortsanitis bettered with a layup-plus-foul. Schortsanitis split free throws and Blu banked in a running shot that broke the game open at 25-40. Cook followed foul shots with a wild reverse layup that got the crowd involved at 29-41. Smith shined with a power basket, but Gecevicius singlehandedly brought Rytas within 10. A layup by Ohayon fixed the halftime score at 33-45.
Third quarter: Seibutis rallies Rytas to within 4
James split free throws right after the break before a layup by Juan Palacios brought the hosts closer, 35-46. James made 2 more from the foul line, scored down low and fed Smith for an easy basket that made it a 17-point game. Ingles fed Ohayon for a layup, which Seibutis matched with a mid-range jumper. Darius Songaila tried to change things with a tip-in, as Maccabi changed its offense once Schortsanitis stepped on court. He split foul shots and Hickman soon gave Maccabi a 39-56 margin. Seibutis nailed another jumper and Songaila followed a close basket with a follow-up layup before Maccabi called timeout at 45-57. Cook struck from downtown to bring the hosts within single digits after a 9-0 run. After Hickman dunked, Lideka scored in the paint and a jumper by Tepic brought Rytas even closer, 52-59. Seibutis ignited the crowd with a triple to get L. Rytas back in the game, 55-59, after 30 minutes.
Fourth quarter: Thrills till the final buzzer
James took over with a three-point play early in the fourth quarter, but Gecevicius answered with a bomb from downtown. Smith silenced the crowd with his own triple. Tepic hit his trademark five-meter jumper off the dribble and a close basket by Palacios made it 62-65. Smith scored again, but Gecevicius swished a five-meter jumper. A wild three-pointer by Smith gave Maccabi some fresh air at 64-70. The guests, however, struggled to score when it mattered most. Stevan Jelovac downed a five-meter shot and free throws by Gecevicius brought Rytas within 68-70 with over two minutes left. Gecevicius struck from downtown to complete the hosts' comeback, 71-70, with 1:55 to go. Hickman made free throws and Seibutis missed around the basket, but Hickman did not connect from downtown when he looked to put the game away. A turnover by Cook forced Rytas to send Rice to the foul line with 19.1 second left. Rice made free throws, but Gecevicius tied the game with a triple, 74-74, with 12.6 seconds to go. James missed down low, but grabbed the offensive board and fed Rice for the go-ahead floater, 74-76, with 3.5 seconds left. On Rytas’s last chance, Seibutis missed an off-balance shot from downtown at the buzzer.
Thursday, November 7, 2013