If Maccabi Tel Aviv was looking for a quick cure for its recent doldrums, it didn't find it Sunday night in Nahariya. The hosts gave the league leader all that it could handle before losing 90-83. Nahariya trailed by as little as 84-80 with 1:19 left in the game.
Maccabi improved to 14-1 and opened up a two-game lead over second place Hapoel Jerusalem.
Maccabi Rishon remained in third with a home win over Hapoel Galil Elyon-Golan, while Hapoel Tel Aviv edged Bnei Hasharon 69-67 at Nokia Arena behind Marcus Hatten's 20 points.
Matchday 16 will draw to a close on Monday when Elitzur Ashkelon hosts Maccabi Givat Shmuel.
Ramat Hasharon has a byeweek.
At Nahariya, Derrick Sharp's veteran leadership was the deciding factor in the final quarter as he scored eight of his game-leading 27 points.
After the game Sharp said he wasn't surprised by Nahariya's performance. "They always play us tough at home."
The Maccabi captain believes the game could be a morale boost for his team. "We needed to play a tough game and play well," he added.
Still under the shadows of Thursday's embarrassing Euroleague loss to Real Madrid, Maccabi opened the game in a fog, managing only five points in the contest's first five minutes.
Successive three-pointers by Anthony Parker, Nikola Vujcic and Sharp helped Maccabi gain its focus and a 19-15 advantage at the end of the first period.
Additional threes by Tal Burstein, Sharp and Parker gave Maccabi a commanding 32-18 lead in the early stages of the second quarter, before a late rally triggered by Alvin Young helped Nahariya close to 38-33. A 7-0 Maccabi spurt shortly before halftime gave the visitors a more comfortable 45-36 lead at the break.
Nahariya outhustled the visitors throughout the third quarter. Two free throws by backup center Uri Kookia evened the contest at 59 with two minutes remaining in the period, but Maccabi scored the final five points of the quarter and then turned to Sharp in the fourth to secure the win.
Jayson Wells led Nahariya attack with 22 points and 11 rebounds and Otis Hill chipped in with 18 points.
Maccabi made 10-of-22 three-pointers in the game.
Maccabi Rishon 93, Hapoel Galil Elyon 87
Rishon used a furious 28-9 run to overcome a sloppy first half and solidify its hold on third place.
Omar Sneed scored all but two of his team-high 25 in the second half to lead Rishon. Sneed shot 10-of-14 and grabbed eight rebounds.
Ryan Sydney added 18 points and seven rebounds and John Gilchrist chipped in 17 points, seven boards and nine fouls drawn for Rishon.
Lior Eliyahu scored 28 and Sasa Bratic added 24 in defeat.
A Bratic three-point play got Galil within three late in the game, but Sneed answered with a three-point play and Rishon pulled away.
On Saturday, Jerusalem defeated Ironi Ramat Gan in overtime 81-72.
The capital city hoopsters flew to Italy on Sunday for their ULEB Cup quarterfinal first-leg against Lottomatica Roma on Tuesday.
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