Maccabi Elite Tel Aviv held on for a tough 69-71 road win over Lottomatica Roma on Thursday night to move into second place in Group D. Derrick Sharp scored all of his 8 points in the final minute to lead the Israeli champs back and hold on for the win. Maccabi won on the road for just the second time this season and improved to 1-1, while Roma slipped to the same record. Will Bynum, who was held scoreless last week for the first time all season, bounced back with 17 points, 5 assists and his best game in months to lead Maccabi. Jamie Arnold was also huge with 17 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. Nikola Vujcic added 14. Mire Chatman scored a game-high 19 to lead Roma, while David Hawkins had 18 and Dejan Bodiroga, who wasn't expected to play due to a broken finger, toughed it out and posted 10. The game was a back-and-forth affair. Maccabi led 28-35 at halftime, but Roma had control early in the fourth quarter. Vujcic led Maccabi back with a clutch three and Sharp gave Maccabi the lead for good, capping a 1-10 run down the stretch. Sharp continued to lead Maccabi with his free-throw shooting in the final minute and Maccabi held on for the big win.
Bynum and Chatman exchanged early three-pointers before Chatman gave Roma a 5-3 lead by coming up with a steal and racing to the other end for a dunk. Hawkins scored on a fast break after Lior Eliyahu's two-handed jam. Maccabi's game plan was to penetrate for a layup, but if contested, to kick the ball out beyond the three-point line and that's where Bynum connected to give the visitors a 9-12 advantage with 4 minutes to go in the quarter. Hawkins's three put the Romans ahead 14-12, but Vujcic quickly tied it and after baskets by Jacopo Giachetti for Roma and Simas Jasaitas for Maccabi, the quarter finished with both sides leveled at 16-16.
Jon Stefansson spotted up close to the free-throw line for his first basket to start the second quarter. Arnold tied it with a strong move down low and then Bynum's three-point play saw the visitors move in front by 3. But Alex Righetti, who was outstanding in Roma's victory over Pau Orthez in last week, buried a three to make it 21-21. Roma then went cold on offense. Arnold's basket and two free throws put Tel Aviv up 4 and after Hawkins's two shots from the stripe, Vujcic's three-point play made it 23-28. Bynum could have stretched the lead on a fast break, but Alessandro Tonolli came out of nowhere for a spectacular block, to infuriate Maccabi coach Neven Spahija who wanted a goaltending call. Nevertheless, the visitors built a 34-25 lead with two minutes remaining before the break. An Ognjen Askrabic layup finished off the scoring in the half with Maccabi ahead 28-35
Roma struggled at the free-throw line in the first half and that pattern continued at the start of the third quarter with Askrabic missing two freebies before Chatman scored with a jumper. Roma's defense and rebounding got it back into the game. After Hawkins missed a fast-break dunk, Chatman slammed one home in transition to make it 32-35. Roma was desperate to quicken the pace and after Jasaitis scored, Chatman again went in for a layup in transition to make it 34-37. Baskets by Askrabic and Hawkins twice closed the gap to just 1 point for the hosts. With 5 minutes to go in the third quarter, Maccabi lead 41-38 after two Arnold free throws. Chatman scored again in transition after a Maccabi turnover to reduce the deficit to 43-45 with 2 minutes remaining in the period. Bodiroga backed Jasaitis into the lane and tied it at 45-45 with a short jumper and that is how the period finished with Roma having battled its way back impressively.
Roma continued to play with fire on both ends of the floor. Stefansson's layup gave the hosts a 47-45 lead at the start of the fourth quarter. With recent signing Roberto Gabini adding a spark off the bench, Bodiroga also raised his game and scored a three-point play for a 51-47 lead. A Hawkins's three made it 54-49 with 7 minutes remaining and forced Spahija to call timeout. Vujcic earned a trip to the charity stripe after Hawkins's foul and made both to reduce the deficit to 54-52. Two Hawkins free throws and a Giachetti drive pushed the lead to 58-52. Vujcic brought Maccabi back to 58-57 with two free throws and a three-pointer, after which Roma called timeout. Bynum gave Maccabi a 58-59 lead with 1:30 left after his jump shot hit the back of the rim and bounced up before falling through. Hawkins was fouled by Sharp and split two at the line to tie. Sharp then buried a three-pointer to give Maccabi a 62-59 advantage with less than one minute remaining. Chatman was hammered on a drive by Bynum and sunk both. Bynum penetrated and handed off to Arnold, whose layup extended the lead to 3. Hawkins again earned a trip to the line and made both with 26 seconds remaining. Chatman fouled Sharp and the Maccabi captain sunk both. Maccabi elected for the remainder of the contest to foul and not to allow Roma to attempt a three-pointer. Hawkins only made one of two after being fouled and Sharp was then fouled by Tonolli and spit the pair, giving Maccabi a 67-64 lead with 17 seconds to go. Chatman made two free throws before Arnold's layup gave the visitors a 69-66 lead. Stefansson made two free throws to make it 69-68 with 5 seconds remaining and then Sharp made two from the line. With 1.6 seconds to go, Bodiroga made a free throw and missed the second on purpose, but Roma was unable to get the rebound and time expired as Maccabi held on for a 71-69 win.
Thursday, February 22, 2007