Maccabi Tel Aviv remained in the hunt for first place in Euroleague Group B on Thursday night, beating Chalon-Sor-Saone 78-73 at Nokia Arena to improve to 6-2 after suffering two consecutive defeats.

Maccabi thrashed Chalon by 29 points on the road earlier this season, but it trailed by as many as 12 points (38-26) in the second period on Thursday and was still down by two points (60-58) entering the fourth frame.

However, Tel Aviv would clinch the win with a late 13-3 run (77-67) and will be hoping that Unicaja Malaga will lose at Montepaschi Siena on Friday so that it can take hold of first place once more.

Devin Smith led Maccabi with 19 points and five rebounds, with David Logan scoring 17.

Brion Rush had 17 points for Chalon, which dropped to 2-6.

After a slow start, Smith caught fire and with three straight threepointers gave Maccabi a fivepoint lead (15-10).

Tel Aviv looked to be cruising when the margin reached seven points (20-13), but it would score just six more points over the next eight minutes to completely cede the initiative to Chalon.

Maccabi could do nothing to stop the French champion from beyond the arc, with Chalon hitting six of 11 three-point attempts in the first period. Shelden Williams’ basket capped an 8- 0 run within 100 seconds that gave the visitors the lead (21-20) and Chalon took a two-point cushion (26-24) into the second period.

Maccabi still failed to break out of its scoring funk at the start of the frame and Jean Baptiste’s three-point play opened a 12-point gap (38-26).

The hosts scored seven straight points to close back within striking distance and considering their disastrous first half could not have been too disappointed about entering the break down by five points (43-38).

A 10-2 run capped by a Yogev Ohayon floater tied the score at 56-56 with 1:48 left in the third period, but Chalon still had the edge with 10 minutes to play (60-58).

Nevertheless, it wouldn’t take long for the yellow-and-blue to move back in front, with Shawn James’s dunk with 6:35 remaining giving the hosts their first lead since the first quarter (64-62).

Maccabi seemed to make every possible mistake in the closing stages, but Chalon couldn’t capitalize and Tel Aviv survived.

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