Maccabi Tel Aviv guard Norris Cole (right) celebrates with DeAndre Kane, with the former scoring a season-high 26 points in last night’s 81-74 win over Zalgiris Kaunas at Yad Eliyahu Arena..
(photo credit: ADI AVISHAI)
Norris Cole ensured Maccabi Tel Aviv bounced back from its heaviest defeat of the season with an 81-74 victory over Zalgiris Kaunas at Yad Eliyahu Arena on Thursday night.
Maccabi dropped to a 22-point loss (89-67) at Barcelona last week, but showed no lasting effects against Zalgiris, opening a double-digit lead by the break and holding off a comeback by the Lithuanians in the fourth quarter to improve to 6-4.
After failing to score more than 10 points in six straight Euroleague games, Cole netted a season-high 26 points while also contributing five rebounds and four assists.
“We needed a win tonight. We had to do everything to get back on the winning track,” said Cole.
Pierre Jackson added 12 points for Maccabi, which shot 10-of-18 (55.6%) from three-point range.
Maccabi entered the contest in last place in the competition in accuracy from beyond the arc (29.3%).
Jonah Bolden finished with six points, but was superb on the defensive end, adding 10 rebounds, five steals and four blocks.
Tel Aviv hosts Valencia next week before playing two difficult road games at CSKA Moscow and Panathinaikos.
The yellow-and-blue will first shift its focus back to local action though, with a showdown with Hapoel Jerusalem coming up in the BSL on Sunday.
Zalgiris, which had averaged 41.9 percent from three-point range, second best in the competition, hit only 7-of-25 longrange shots (28.0%).
Arturas Milaknis had 19 points for Kaunas, which fell to 5-5.
After a tight start, Maccabi pulled ahead in the closing stages of the first half, scoring the final eight points of the period to open the first double-digit lead of the night (39-29). A Cole three-pointer capped Tel Aviv’s run at the end of the second quarter and his two consecutive triples early in the third frame took the gap to 17 points (48-31), with the two-time NBA champion with the Miami Heat netting 11 points to spark the yellowand- blue’s 17-2 surge.
Another basket by Cole ensured Maccabi had what seemed like a comfortable 14-point margin (65-51) entering the final 10 minutes.
But the hosts would take more than four minutes to score their first points of the fourth quarter, allowing Kaunas to close to within four points (65-61).
The visitors, guided by coach Sarunas Jasikevicius, who led Maccabi to Euroleague crowns in 2004 and 2005, reduced the deficit to three points, but Cole and Jackson allowed the Lithuanians no closer and Maccabi picked up its sixth continental win of the campaign, something which didn’t happen until January last season.