Zvezda steps up defense to win in Tel Aviv
Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade entered the win column in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague with an impressive 63-75 victory at Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv. Nikola Kalinic led all scorers with 19 points while Nate Wolters poured in 17 points against his former club and Luka Mitrovic picked up a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds in the victory - which gave the Serbian side a 1-1 mark. Maccabi has the same record after a disappointing showing in front of a sold-out Menora Mivtachim Arena. Scottie Wilbekin knocked down 6 three-pointers for 18 points and Mathias Lessort chipped in 16 points in the loss.
Zvezda came out strong with Kalinic scoring the first 4 points. Maccabi committed 5 turnovers in the first 4 minutes with Kalinic grabbing a steal and an assist for Wolters to make it 0-10. The hosts finally got on the board through James Nunnally and Wilbekin’s first three-pointer trimmed it to 7-12. Wilbekin hit another triple, but Mitrovic extended the gap to 10-20, which was the score after 10 minutes. Marko Simonovic started the second quarter with a three-pointer and the lead was 13 points. Wilbekin answered with another triple, but Maccabi went nearly 3 minutes without a score and Simonovic hit another three as Zvezda surged ahead 13-28. After another Maccabi timeout, Angelo Caloiaro stepped with a three-pointer and two three-point plays within 35 seconds to trim the deficit to 22-28. Zvezda responded with a 1-7 surge and the cushion was 23-35 before Lessort finished the first half with 4 points. The hosts trailed 27-35 at the break.
Jalen Reynolds scored inside and Nunnally hit a three-pointer to get Maccabi within 32-37. The Maccabi offense stalled again though and Mitrovic had 5 points in helping the guests pull away to 32-44. Wolters knocked down a pair of triples at the end of the quarter and Zvezda was up 37-54 after 30 minutes. Ognjen Dobric opened the fourth quarter and the lead was 37-56. Maccabi tried to fight back with a Wilbekin triple and Lessort points and the score was 43-58. Dobric, Wolters and Kalinic made sure there would be no comeback with three-pointers of their own to make it 46-67 with under 5 minutes to play. Maccabi tried to stay alive with an unsportsmanlike foul, which resulted in 5 points thanks to a Wilbekin triple to make things interesting 55-68 with under 3 minutes remaining. Maccabi could not get closer than 11 points the rest of the way.
Nikola Kalinic was on the mark all game offensively for Zvezda, scoring the first 4 points of the game and finishing with a game-high 19 points. The Serbian international also was present on the glass with 5 rebounds and he dished out 5 assists. Kalinic also came up with 1 steal early on as Zvezda set the tone defensively in the opening minutes - forcing 8 Maccabi first-quarter turnovers. Add that all up and Kalinic collected an index rating of 22.
Finally another road win
Home teams have dominated this matchup in the past as the hosting clubs have put together a 10-2 record since 2000. Both teams have only lost once again the other side at home in this showdown. All told, the home side had won the last six games. Zvezda’s only other road win over Maccabi came on January 19, 2017, when it prevailed 67-71. Maccabi will have to wait until March 29, 2022, in Round 29 to try to knock off Zvezda in the Serbian capital.
Zvezda shot a very solid 58.3% on two-pointers in the game - not to mention 35.0% from three-point range. The guests’ defense meanwhile shined as Maccabi made just 11-of-30 two-pointers or 36.7% - which was only just slightly better than its performance from beyond the arc at 33.3%. Zvezda forced Maccabi into 8 turnovers in the first quarter and refused to let the hosts regain control of the game - though Maccabi committed only 6 more turnovers in the final 30 minutes.
Thursday, October 7, 2021