Horace Jenkins led six players in double figures with 19 points as Hapoel Jerusalem strengthened its grip on second place with a 91-79 win over Ironi Nahariya in the feature BSL Matchday 15 game on Sunday night at Malha.
Mario Austin added 18 and Meir Tapiro finished with 12 points, nine rebounds and eight assists for the hosts, who improved to 11-3 and opened up a two-game lead over third place Maccabi Rishon, which lost to Bnei Hasharon one week after handing Maccabi Tel Aviv its first BSL defeat this season. Nahariya dropped to 8-5.
Ramat Hasharon helped heat things up at the bottom of the table with a 94-83 home win over Ironi Ramat Gan, which lost its fourth in a row.
All eyes will be at Nokia Arena on Monday night, when Maccabi hosts Hapoel in the Tel Aviv derby.
At Malha, Tapiro was one of three players to come off the bench and produce as the hosts' subs outscored Nahariya's 35-18. Tamar Slay (12 points) and Erez Marckovich (11 points, 8 rebounds) were the others.
"I just tried to make good decisions and get everyone in the game," Tapiro said.
Alvin Young led Nahariya with 24 points on 10-of-16 shooting, but had little help from his friends as only Otis Hill (15 points) scored more than eight.
"It's the holy city, I guess God was with me," Young joked of his hot hand. "[Jerusalem] did a good job with pick and roll and it's hard to beat them when they have four guys playing so well."
Slay and Marckovich combined for 10 points as Jerusalem went on a 12-2 run late in the second quarter to break open a tie game, but Nahariya closed the gap to 51-45 at halftime.
The hosts held Nahariya to just 14 third-quarter points while increasing their lead to 18, but some hot shooting sparked a comeback. Ex-Jerusalem swingman Barak Peleg made it 80-74 with under five minutes to go, but Jenkins came in and sank three big buckets down the stretch to reverse the momentum and seal the win.
Bnei Hasharon 103, Maccabi Rishon 96
Adam Harrington erupted for a season-high 36 points to sting Rishon, which was coming off an upset of perennial champion Maccabi Tel Aviv.
The hosts led by double figures for much of the game, but Rishon never gave up and drew within five on a Matt Minoff three-point play with just over a minute remaining. But a Ousmane Cisse slam and a pair of Harrington free throws sealed the Bnei Hasharon win.
Harrington made 7-of-10 from beyond the arc, Terrence Rencher added 26 and Cisse finished with 15 points and 10 boards for the winners.
Omar Sneed led Rishon with 23.
Elitzur Ashkelon 74, Galil-Golan 73
Oded Sha'ashoua banked in a jumper in the paint with 8.8 seconds to go at Kfar Blum to snap Ashkelon's sixgame losing streak. Galil had a chance to win it, but Bryant Smith threw up an airball at the buzzer.
Brandon Kurtz led Ashkelon with 20 against his former team before fouling out in the final minute and Brian Tolbert added 18.
Uche Nsonwo had 18 points and 11 rebounds for Galil, while Smith scored 12 in his debut.
Avi Creditor contributed to this report.