Maccabi rules at home for 2-1 series edge
Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv is one win away from a trip to the 2014 Final Four after handing EA7 Emporio Armani Milan a 75-63 defeat at Nokia Arena on Monday. The victory gives Maccabi a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five playoffs series, with Game 4 and a chance to clinch its Final Four return coming in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. Maccabi took control of the game in the second quarter, taking the lead for good with a three-pointer from David Blu. With help from Ricky Hickman, the margin reached double-figures at halftime, 39-29. After the break, Devin Smith and Blu nailed three-pointers that extended the lead to 49-33 and Milan never came closer than 10 points the rest of the way. The hosts closed it out with a big fourth quarter from Alex Tyus, giving a packed Nokia Arena a lot to cheer about. Blu paced the winners with 16 points. Hickman scored 10 of his 15 points in the first half, and dished 6 assists, while Tyus scored 8 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter, and also grabbed 8 rebounds. Tyrese Rice finished with 9 points for the winners. For Milan, Daniel Hackett netted 14 points with 6 rebounds, Keith Langford scored 12, while Curtis Jerrells and had 11 in defeat.
First quarter: Milan starts strong, Maccabi stays close
Langford and Hickman traded baskets from close range to start the scoring, and Hackett scored from long distance for an early 2-5 Milan lead. Samardo Samuels extended the lead for the visitors with a coast-to-coast fastbreak layup, and after Hickman answered in the same manner, a triple from David Moss made it 4-10 for Milan. Tyrese Rice cut the deficit with a pair of driving baskets, and after Samuels muscled his way for a layup, David Blu nailed a tough corner triple, getting Maccabi within 11-12 as both teams already briefly switched their defense to zone. Hackett scored a basket-plus-free throw for Milan, but Blu made a short jumper and Tyus a big dunk to tie it at 15-15. With neither team making a basket towards the end of the quarter, split free throws from Curtis Jerrells made the difference, giving Milan 15-16 advantage after 10 minutes.
Second quarter: Maccabi pulls away to a double-digit lead
A put-back dunk from Tyus gave Maccabi its first lead of the game, 17-16. Hackett drove for a floater, but Sofoklis Schortsanitis answered, scoring twice from close range at 21-19. Hickman drove the baseline to add a dunk to the hosts' tally, and after Samuels fought his way in for a layup, Blu nailed another corner triple and another jumper, giving Maccabi 28-23 midway through the second quarter. Milan briefly got back within a single possession with free throws from Jerrells, but Yogev Ohayon hit from behind the arc, while Devin Smith and Schortsanitis each scored inside for 35-27. Langford made a pair of foul shots at the other end before Hickman drove for an acrobatic layup, then added 2 free throws on the ensuing possession, pushing the margin into the double figures for the first time in the game, 39-29 at halftime.
Third quarter: The hosts retain control
Smith hit a wide open three to open the third quarter at 42-29. After Samuels made a bucket inside, Hickman and Ohayon drove for layups to make it even bigger, 46-31. Moss scored a layup for Milan, but Blu nailed his third three-pointer of the night for a 49-33 scoreboard. Milan countered with Hackett's drive, and Langford's jumper cut it to 51-40. Schortsanitis and Gani Lawal traded baskets, before Blu scored a jumper-plus-free throw at 56-42, swinging the momentum back to Maccabi. Tyus and Nicolo Melli each hit a pair of free throws in the final minute, before Rice buried a buzzer-beating three-pointer to make it 61-45 after three quarters.
Fourth quarter: Margin hits 17 as Tyus closes it out
Jerrells knocked down a triple at the beginning of the fourth quarter, but Tyus scored from close range and mid-range, extending Maccabi's lead to 65-48. Langford and Bruno Cerella buried long jumpers on back-to-back possessions for Milan, but Tyus and Hickman kept the margin at 17 points. Lawal and Tyus traded more baskets, before Jerrells hit a jumper, and C.J. Wallace and Moss hit free throws to cut it to 72-60 with 2 minutes to go. Hackett's three-pointer made it 73-63, but it was too little too late for the visitors, as Rice drove all the way for a layup, sealing the deal.
Monday, April 21, 2014