Maccabi rallies, edges Olympiacos on Wilbekin triple
Scottie Wilbekin hit a three-pointer with 10.6 seconds left to lift Maccabi FOX Tel Aviv to a dramatic 71-70 win over a depleted Olympiacos Piraeus on Thursday night. Maccabi raised its record to 17-8 and took over sole possession of fourth place in the standings, while Olympiacos dropped to 11-15. Maccabi held a 13-point just before halftime, but the Reds erased the deficit in the third quarter and took a 55-62 lead late in the fourth. However, Maccabi made several shots from long range to close the gap before Wilbekin's game-winner sealed the win for an eruption of joy at Menora Mivtachim Arena. Wilbekin scored 17 of his 21 points in the second half, while Elijah Bryant was the only other Maccabi scorer in double figures with 13 points. Shaquielle McKissic led Olympiacos with 14 points in his EuroLeague debut, while Wade Baldwin IV scored all of his 13 points in the second half in a losing effort.
The game was physical in the early minutes with points few and far between. Elijah Bryant was the first player to score twice in putting the hosts up 9-8 through 6 minutes before the first TV timeout. After the stop, the crowd sang for Yovel Zoosman who made his return from injury, but it was Bryant who shined with his second three of the game. McKissic heated up to keep Olympiacos close; his basket-plus-foul made it 14-13. Georgios Printezis followed with his trademarked one-handed push shot to give the Reds the lead. A layup by Zoosman helped the hosts regain the lead and Angelo Caloiaro boosted the margin to 20-16 after 10 minutes. Three-pointers by Aaron Jackson and Taylor Rochestie were the only baskets in the opening 4:30 of the second quarter. The Reds struck with a 0-7 run capped Sasha Vezenkov triple to take a 25-26 lead. But after a timeout, Maccabi went on to score 14 unanswered points. Caloiaro sparked things with a triple, before Wilbekin, Bryant and Tyler Dorsey all took it to the rim, helping open a 39-26 lead in the final minute of the first half. Brandon Paul's triple snapped the run and made it 39-29 at halftime.
Baldwin scored 5 points to cut into the margin early in the third quarter, but Wilbekin's triple off another a turnover made it 44-34. A three-point play from Kostas Papanikolaou followed by a three-pointer apiece from Baldwin and Printezis cut the deficit to a single point before Dwight Buycks nailed a baseline jumper to put Olympiacos in front 47-48. Wilbekin snapped the 0-11 run with a runner and his triple made it 52-50 going into the fourth. Wilbekin opened the fourth with another three-pointer, but the Reds replied with a 0-12 run, which included a pair of triples from Vezenkov, giving the visitors a 55-62 advantage. But Caloiaro hit a triple and Bryant did the same before Dorsey and Othello Hunter connected for an alley-oop dunk to get within 65-66. McKissic scored a three-point play to give the Reds some breathing room and the visitors were hanging on to 68-70 lead in the 20 seconds before Wilbekin knocked down what proved to be the game-winning triple with 10.6 seconds to go. Olympiacos had another possession, but Maccabi's defense forced a turnover to seal the win.
Finding shots late
Maccabi finished the game shooting 10 for 30 from three-point land, but in the final 5 minutes of the game Maccabi made 3 of its 5 shots from downtown.
Steals and turnover
After Scottie Wilbekin's triple, the game ended on a turnover by Shaquielle McKissic caused by a steal from Elijah Bryant. The Reds finished the game with a season-high 21 turnovers, and Maccabi had 12 steals, one shy of its season-high.
Moving up into fourth
Maccabi improved to 12-1 at home this season and moved into fourth place in the standings, which carries with it homecourt advantage in the playoffs. Maccabi has not been in the playoffs since 2015 and has not had the homecourt advantage since 2010.
Olympiacos was depleted in this game, without the injured Vassilis Spanoulis and Nikola Milutinov. The Reds also had a pair of debutants in McKissic and Dwight Buycks. The former had a good showing with 14 points on 6-for-7 two-point shooting along with 3 rebounds and 2 assists in 22 minutes, although he did have 5 turnovers. Buycks, in foul trouble most of the game, finished with 4 points.
Both teams will be at home in Round 27 with Olympiacos hosting its archrival Panathinaikos OPAP Athens on Tuesday and Maccabi welcoming league-leading Anadolu Efes Istanbul to Tel Aviv on Wednesday.
Thursday, February 27, 2020