Maccabi blasts Zalgiris at both ends
Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv dominated Zalgiris Kaunas at both ends in capturing an 85-57 victory over the Lithuanian champs on Thursday at Menora Mivtachim Arena. Maccabi used a 20-0 run that bridged the first and second quarters in building a 30-point halftime margin from which Zalgiris never recovered. The result boosted Maccabi's record to 3-5 and dropped Zalgiris to 5-3. Tyler Dorsey paced five Maccabi scorers in double figures with 16 points, Chris Jones added 15, Dragan Bender scored 11 and Elijah Bryant and Scottie Wilbekin had 10 points apiece. Thomas Walkup lad the Zalgiris attack with 12 points and Joffrey Lauvergne and Marius Grigonis netted 11 each.
Lauvergne opened the game with an alley-oop slam as he and Walkup combined for all of Zalgiris's points in a 2-8 start. Back-to-Back three-pointers by Angelo Caloirao and Sandy Cohen revived Maccabi. Both teams made multiple substitutions after 6 minutes and Maccabi's paid off quickly as Jones hit a step-back jumper to put the hosts ahead 14-12. Jones added a jumper, a steal and a three before Bender ended the first quarter with a triple to extend an 8-0 run for a 24-14 lead. Bender nailed another three to open the second quarter and Oz Blayzer also hit from deep. Dorsey scored twice to complete a 20-0 Maccabi run for a 36-14 lead. Lukas Lekavicius's floated ended a 4-minute Zalgiris drought before a three by Dorsey made it a 25-point lead. Lauvergne went to work in the paint, but Maccabi continued to add to its lead. A three by Dorsey made it 49-21 and Wilbekin free throws boosted the margin to 53-23 at the break.
Caloirao struck first for Maccabi in the second half. Lauvergne continued to be a shining light for Zalgiris with a pair of assists, but the visitors could not do much about their deficit. A jumper by Jones made it 65-31 midway through the third quarter. Grigonis netted Zalgiris's first three-pointer on the team's ninth try and Walkup heated up to trim the margin to 25. A three by Bender put the hosts ahead 72-44 through three quarters. Ante Zizic dunked for the first points of the fourth quarter to keep the hosts cruising. Martinas Geben was effective inside to help Zalgiris chip away, but the Maccabi guards continued to add points as the hosts celebrated a convincing win.
Maccabi scored the final 8 points of the first quarter and the first 12 of the second for a 20-0 run that made it 36-14 and the visitors never got within 20 the rest of the way. Chris Jones scored the first 5 points of the run, Dragan Bender the next 8, then Oz Blazer hit a three-pointer and Tyler Dorsey finished it off with a pair of baskets.
Maccabi was led by its reserves with Chris Jones, Tyler Dorsey, Dragan Bender, Oz Blayzer and Dori Sahar combining for 47 points, while the starting five had just 38. All the points in the game's decisive 20-0 first-half run came from Maccabi's reserves.
One for the record books
Maccabi's 30-point halftime lead set a club record for its largest ever at the intermission. Its previous best was 28 (47-19) en route to an 88-67 blowout over Partizan Belgrade in January 2014. That season Maccabi went on to win the EuroLeague championship.
Seven different Maccabi players sank three-pointers as the team combined to go 11 for 21 from downtown (52.4%). Zalgiris was 1 for 14 on threes (7.1%), tying the worst shooting night from behind the arc in club history.
Maccabi finished the game with three products of the team's youth system on the court. Yonatan Atias came on for his EuroLeague debut in the final 1:25 and missed his lone shot attempt. Dori Sahar was the next substitution and he netted his first EuroLeague points in his second career appearance. Finally, Eidan Alber came on for his first EuroLeague appearance with 28 seconds to go.
Zalgiris hosts archrival CSKA Moscow in its next game on Tuesday, November 17 in the first of its two games next week. Maccabi visits Spain next week to play Real Madrid on Wednesday, November 18 before taking on Valencia Basket two days later.
Thursday, November 12, 2020