(photo credit: AP)
A Terence Morris basket with four seconds remaining in the game gave Maccabi Tel Aviv its first road win of the Euroleague season on Thursday night. Maccbai defeated Armani Jeans Milano 82-81 in Italy despite playing a poor game.
Tel Aviv struggled for large parts of the game and was fortunate it was playing against an opponent that is mediocre at best. The Italians have now lost all three of their home Euroleague games this season and are a dismal 1-5 in the competition.
Maccabi, which improves to 4-2, was led by Yoatam Halperin, who scored 20 points, and by Morris, who added 17 points and eight rebounds. Danilo Gallinari and Dusan Vukcevic scored 20 points each for the hosts.
Vonteego Cummings scored Maccabi's first seven points of the game and gave the team a five point lead (7-2). The visitors built on their good start and David Bluthenthal's three-pointer opened a seven-point margin (15-8). The first of many lapses in concentration by Maccabi allowed Milano back into the game, with the hosts' 10-2 run giving them their first lead of the night (18-17). Casey Shaw's basket with a minute remaining in the first period extended the Italians' lead to four points and Vukcevic's successful free throws to end the first quarter gave the hosts a 25-23 advantage.
Pietro Aradori scored the first two points of the second period, but a 10-0 Maccabi run would put the visitors in the lead once more. Batista's three-point move capped the yellow-and-blues' run and gave his team a 33-27 lead.
Travis Watson's thunderous dunk with just over three minutes remaining in the half tied the score (37-37), but Tel Aviv would be ahead at the break nevertheless, thanks to Bluthenthal's three-pointer at the end of the period (47-45).
Lior Eliyahu increased Maccabi's lead at the start of the third quarter and Halperin's lay-up opened a 55-51 advantage. Four straight points by Watson tied the game and Gallinari's two points put Milano in the lead for the first time in the second half. Melvin Booker's basket from beyond the arc capped an 11-0 Italian run and gave the hosts their first comfortable lead of the game (62-55).
Derrick Sharp's three brought Tel Aviv within three points of Milano at the end of the third period (64-61) and Terence Morris scored the first six points of the fourth quarter to give Maccabi a 67-64 lead.
Will Bynum's first points of the game kept the visitors in front, but Gallinari's triple made sure the lead changed hands once again (70-69). Vukcevic's and Shaw's baskets extended Milano's advantage to five points (74-69), but Morris' three soon after cut the margin to three points (78-75). A Morris dunk with a minute and a half remaining Maccabi's comeback (79-78), but Vukcevic's three put the hosts in the lead. Morris' heroics would ensure that Tel Aviv left Italy with a crucial win.