Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv held off EB Pau-Orthez in overtime 94-98 in France on Thursday night to seal second place in Group D and a meeting with rival CSKA Moscow in the Quarterfinal Playoffs for a spot in the Final Four. Maccabi led from the start until the closing seconds, when Aaron Miles went to the line with his team trailing by 3, made one free throw, missed the second on purpose, then grabbed the rebound and sank a short jumper to tie the game at 89-89 with 2.4 seconds left in regulation. Maccabi captain Derrick Sharp missed a chance to win it with a three at the buzzer and the teams went to overtime. Pau continued its momentum and scored the first 5 points of the extra period, but ran out of steam and Maccabi finished the game with 9 unanswered points. The turning point came when Michael Wright missed two free throws with 12 seconds to go in overtime and Sharp sank to to seal the win with 6.7 on the clock. Maccabi improved to 3-2 in Group D and will host Lottomatica Roma next week in a game for protocol only. Pau dropped to 1-4 and will end its season next week at Tau Ceramica. Tal Burstein had his best game of the season, making up for the absence of All-Euroleague center Nikola Vujcic with 21 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. Will Bynum added 20 and Lior Eliyahu posted 12 points and 8 rebounds. Yaniv Green, starting for the first time this season in place of Vujcic, finished with a season-high 10. Wright led Pau with 24 points, 8 rebounds and 11 fouls drawn. He was 12-for-14 from the line before missing the fateful free throws. C.C. Harrison added 17, Miles 14 and 5 assists, Melvin Sanders scored 12 and Ricardo Greer posted 10 points, 14 rebounds and 6 assists in defeat.
Maccabi won the opening tip and got on the board quickly through a Simas Jasaitas jumper. Bynum then banked in a jumper before Sanders scored the hosts first points with a three-pointer. Baskets by Eliyahu and Burstein in transition put Maccabi up 3-8, but Harrison answered back with a triple. Green took a dish from Burstein for a basket and Eliyahu hit a short-jumper before Burstein rifled in a triple for an 8-15 advantage. Pau coach Gordon Herbert took a timeout, which ultimately slowed the pace down. Sanders's second three and Wright's free throws carried the hosts within 13-17. Britton Johnsen won the first clash of the sixth men, drawing a foul from Sharp while shooting a three. Johnsen made two from the line to keep his team close. But Burstein fired in a triple and Bynum penetrated to put Maccabi up 9. Frederic Fauthoux's jumper and an Ian Mahinmi free throw cut the gap to 4, but Burstein scored his ninth and 10th points of the period from the line to make it 20-26 after 10 minutes.
Burstein spotted Noel Felix in the paint for a basket before Goran Jeretin's free throws gave the visitors their first double-digit lead. Greer got Pau on the board with a long jumper, but a red-hot Burstein bettered him with a basket-plus-foul. Xane D'Almeida beat the 24-second clock with a three, but the Maccabi attack kept coming in waves. Bynum silenced the crowd when he stripped D'Almeida and darted downcourt for a one-handed slam. Greer hit from downtown, but Eliyahu's layup kept Maccabi up 30-38. After Wright added 2 from the line, the visitors capitalized as Jasaitas's drilled a three while Johnsen fouled Green going for the rebound. Maccabi kept the ball and Green's offensive board and basket increased the lead to 11. Tel Aviv cooled off a bit as Harrison heated up with 5 straight points to make it 37-44. D'Almeida came through with another three and Greer penetrated for a basket-plus-foul in the final minute. Greer then soared for a layup as the clock expired to get Pau within 45-48 at halftime.
Wright started the second half with a basket inside, but Pau missed its chances to go on top. Bynum's fastbreak basket-plus-foul restored a 6-point lead for the visitors. Wright remained an effective option inside with his third basket of the period, but he then surrendered a basket to Felix at the other end. Burstein followed that with a triple to put Maccabi up 51-60. Pau had no other effective option besides Wright, while on the other end, Bynum fed Eliyahu to restore a 10-point lead. Wright added two more from the line, but a Jeretin triple followed by Sharon Shason free throws out Maccabi up 13. Miles made a free throw with 37 seconds left in the period for Pau's first score of the quarter by a player other than Wright. Miles added a layup on the next possession to make it 58-67.
Johnsen started the fourth quarter with a basket and Harrison scored three the hard way, but Jeretin fed Eliyahu for an alley-oop at the other end. Johnsen cut the gap to 65-71, but Jeretin hit a miracle three as the 24-second clock was about the expire and Bynum scored a basket-plus-foul to put the visitors ahead by 12. Wright routinely scored from the line and Miles from downtown to get Pau within 7, but Jamie Arnold made it 70-79 with five minutes to go. But Harrison wasn't done and after an acrobatic score followed by a steal and layup, the hosts were within 5. After Eliyahu missed two from the line, Miles penetrated to bring his team within one shot. Burstein drew a foul and sank a pair to make it 76-81 with 3 minutes remaining, but Wright muscled his way through Eliyahu for a basket-plus-foul. Bynum rescued Maccabi with a clutch triple before Green sent Wright to the line for two with less than 2 minutes on the clock. The big man hit both and after a Bynum turnover, Greer looked to tie the game from downtown with a triple, but he missed and Eliyahu fed Green for a 5-point lead with 31.8 remaining. Sanders kept the hosts alive with a long three with 21.4 seconds to go. Maccabi took 10 seconds off the clock before Harrison sent Sharp to the line, but the veteran captain made only one with 11.6 seconds left. Harrison narrowed the gap to 86-87 with 7.4 seconds left, but Sharp immediately restored Maccabi's lead. Maccabi fouled Miles in the backcourt and he made one, but missed the second on purpose. Miles then grabbed the rebound and tied the score at 89-89 with a short jumper with 2.4 seconds to go. After a Maccabi timeout, Sharp missed a three at the buzzer that could have won the game.
Sanders started the extra period with a three for Pau's first lead of the night. Pau's enthusiasm carried over to the defensive end, where Wright blocked Felix's shot. Wright increased the lead to 5 with a basket on the offensive glass before Arnold finally got Maccabi going with a dunk after 2-and-a-half minutes. Arnold blocked Wright at the other end and Burstein made it 94-93 from the line with 2 minutes left. Sanders missed a three and Harrison fouled out, sending Arnold to the line with 1:15 to go. The big man missed the first, but tied the game again with the second. Jeretin came up with a big steal and Burstein sank a jumper for Maccabi's 7th straight point. Miles missed from downtown, but Bynum gave Pau the ball right back with 24 seconds left. Wright returned to the line with 12 seconds left, but missed twice. Sharp then sealed the win with a pair from the line with 6.7 remaining to send Maccabi through to the quarterfinals.
Thursday, March 15, 2007