Maccabi survives Nedovic onslaught to win
Resurgent Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv held on to beat Panathinaikos OPAP Athens 89-81 on Tuesday night at Menora Mivtachim Arena for the Israeli champs' fourth win in five games. To do so, Maccabi needed to overcome a brilliant offensive night from Nemanja Nedovic, who scored a career-high 39 points and led the Greens back from a 16-point deficit to within 2 in the fourth quarter. The victory lifted Maccabi's record to 7-9 on the season, while Panathinaikos fell to 5-10. Scottie Wilbekin paced the Maccabi attack with 22 points and Elijah Bryant and Othello Hunter added 13 points apiece. Hunter also grabbed 7 rebounds. Georgios Papagiannis posted 11 rebounds and 4 blocks for Panathinaikos in defeat.
The two centers opened the scoring with Papagiannis getting a hook shot to fall for the Greens before Ante Zizic netted a layup for the hosts. The offenses took time to settle in with the scoreboard reading 4-4 after 4 minutes. Wilbekin's jumper in the lane gave Maccabi its first lead, 6-4. Bryant free throws extended the margin to 7. Shelvin Mack came off the bench to drill a three for Panathinaikos, but Yovel Zoosman did the same at the other end. A basket-plus-foul by Hunter extended the margin to double figures and it reached 12 before Nedovic's triple made it 21-12 after 10 minutes. Ben Bentil struck from behind the arc to open the second quarter. Maccabi scored the next 6 points before Nedovic sank a three for the Greens. Omri Casspi scored on back-to-back possessions to extend the margin to 31-18 midway through the second quarter. After a timeout, Dragan Bender scored twice to stretch the lead to 35-19. However, Howard Sant-Roos set up Nedovic and Aaron White for baskets to get Panathinaikos going, prompting a Maccabi timeout. Wilbekin and Chris Jones sandwiched threes around Nedovic free throws. Nedovic kept firing and scored twice more to bring his team within 41-30 at the break.
Dinos Mitoglou free throws early in the second half got the margin down to 9 before Wilbekin and Tyler Dorsey got Maccabi going again. Nedovic and Mitoglou closed the gap to 47-38. Dorsey and Nedovic traded threes to make it 50-41 midway through the third quarter. Nedovic starting dishing assists and a basket by Mitoglou and a three by Marcus Foster got the visitors within 4. Bryant scored 5 straight points to give Maccabi some breathing room. A pull-up three by Ioannis Papapetrou kept Panathinaikos close at 57-52. Free throws by Hunter granted Maccabi a 59-52 advantage after three quarters. Nedovic's fourth three-pointer and a slam by Papagiannis made it 63-57 early in the fourth quarter. Another Papagiannis dunk made it 65-61. Bender scored on Maccabi's next two possessions to stretch the lead to 7. Nedovic drained a four-point play to close the gap to 70-67 midway through the fourth quarter. After Wilbekin and Sant-Roos traded threes, Nedovic connected on his seventh triple to get within 75-73. Wilbekin was up for the duel with free throws and a pair of floaters to keep Maccabi in control. After a timeout, Bentil and Wilbekin traded threes. Hunter sank a pair of free throws to make it 84-76 with 1:14 to play. A jumper by Nedovic and a free throw by Papapetrou got Panathinaikos within 5 with 30 seconds left. Free throws by Bryant for a 6-point lead with 13.3 seconds left put the game on ice.
Historic night for Nedovic
Nemanja Nedovic had a special night for Panathinaikos with 39 points on 7-for-12 three-point shooting. He set a career-high in scoring and PIR (45) and tied his personal best for three-pointers made. After scoring 3 in the first quarter, Nedovic went for 11 in the second. But his best quarter was the fourth with 19 points. He tied teammate Ioannis Papapetrou for the second-most points in a game by a Panathinaikos player; Tyrese Rice owns the record with 41. His PIR is also second-best for the Greens; Jaka Lakovic had 51 in a March 2004 game.
Scottie Wilbekin went shot for shot with Nedovic at times in the fourth quarter, during which he scored 12 points to keep Maccabi in control. Wilbekin also dished 4 assists and made 4 three-pointers from 8 tries. In doing so, Wilbekin leapfrogged Fenerbahce Beko Istanbul players Nando De Colo and Ali Muhammed on the career list for three-pointers. Wilbekin reached 308, which put him in 18th place. De Colo and Muhammed, who play on Wednesday night, are 19th with 304.
Both teams shot well, but Maccabi was excellent from the line where it made 20 of 23 free throws (87.0%). The visitors, in contrast, were 10 for 14 (71.4%). Maccabi also outrebounded Panathinaikos 36-27.
Maccabi will wrap up the calendar year with a Round 17 home game against Zenit St Petersburg on Tuesday, December 29. Panathinaikos's next game will be the following day, on the road at Crvena Zvezda mts Belgrade.
Tuesday, December 22, 2020