Maccabi Tel Aviv center Alex Tyus dunks two of his 15 points during last night’s 89-75 win over Red Star Belgrade at Yad Eliyahu Arena.
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Two days after suffering its heaviest defeat of the season, Maccabi Tel Aviv bounced back with an 89-75 victory over Red Star Belgrade at Yad Eliyahu Arena on Thursday night to maintain its place among the top eight in the Euroleague standings.
Maccabi was humbled 94-64 at Olympiacos in Athens on Tuesday, falling to eighth place in the table. Baskonia Vitoria’s defeat at Real Madrid on Wednesday meant Maccabi nevertheless remained one game in front of the Spaniards in the battle for the final playoff berth and Thursday’s victory will keep the yellowand- blue in the top eight for at least one more week.
A 15-3 run in the final five minutes of the first half gave Maccabi an 18-point gap (47-29) and Red Star came no closer than seven points after the break.
Pierre Jackson led Maccabi with 22 points and five assists, with Alex Tyus adding 15 points and seven rebounds. DeAndre Kane netted 14 points, with Deshaun Thomas and Norris Cole contributing 10 points each.
“We had a lot of fight in us tonight and the result shows that,” said Jackson. “Coach stressed how important this game is and we just wanted to come out and play hard.”
Milko Bjelica had 13 points for Red Star, which fell to 7-12.
Especially encouraging for Maccabi coach Neven Spahija was his team’s performance on the defensive end. After allowing its opponents an average 89.6 points per game over its previous seven contests, of which the team won only two, Tel Aviv once more displayed the defensive form that saw it hold reigning champion Fenerbahce to 73 points last month and limit its opponents to just 75.9 points per game in the regular season’s first eight encounters.
Maccabi has struggled on the defensive end in particular on the road, allowing 88.9 points in its past seven games away from Yad Eliyahu, winning only one of them.
With seven of its final 11 regular season games coming on the road, Maccabi will need to start stopping opponents on their home floor sooner rather than later, preferably already in next Friday’s visit to Olimpia Milano.
Red Star scored the first two points on Thursday, but Maccabi wouldn’t trail again. The hosts scored nine of the final 11 points of the first period to open a seven-point gap (23-16) and never lost control. John DiBartolomeo’s three-pointer early in the second quarter opened a double-digit margin (28-18) for the first time and Tel Aviv would outscore Belgrade 15-3 in the final five minutes of the first half to establish an 18-point gap (47-29).
Maccabi seemed to be in complete control, but Red Star never gave up the chase, closing to within seven points. But a DiBartolomeo three-pointer followed by a Jackson lay-up reestablished a double-digit cushion (64-52) entering the final 10 minutes. Tel Aviv was never under threat after that, wrapping up a comfortable victory in a game it had to win to boost its playoff hopes.
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