Basketball: Home Sweet Nokia: Maccabi wins 4th straight in TA

On Monday night, Mac TA defeats Ironi Nahariya 84-78 on local turf.

Mac TA 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Mac TA 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Ten three-point buckets helped Maccabi Tel Aviv overcome a turnover-laden performance in defeating Ironi Nahariya 84-78 at the Nokia Arena on Monday night. With the win, Maccabi (2-0) pulled to within two points of league-leading Haifa in the early-season BSL standings. Just like in its Israeli league opener two weeks earlier, Omri Casspi (19 points) led a well-balanced attack for the home squad, with Carlos Arroyo and Lior Eliyahu each chipping in 13. Maccabi committed a whopping 18 turnovers on the evening, but that statistic was largely negated by a horrendous free throw shooting night (15 for 27, for 56%) by its opponent. "We scored [at critical junctures] and made the correct decisions at the right times," Maccabi head coach Effi Birenboim said after the game, summing up his team's keys to the victory. "[Plus] we hit more of our foul shots than the other team." Aaron McGhee and Ron Lewis turned in strong performances for Nahariya, scoring 23 and 21 points respectively. Maccabi raced to an early 9-2 advantage, thanks to three consecutive D'or Fischer baskets - including an acrobatic alley-oop dunk - in the game's first two and a half minutes. But Nahariya hung tough, as a headband-donning Ron Lewis (10 points in the quarter) nailed a three to cut Maccabi's edge to 16-14 midway through the opening period. Five straight Carlos Arroyo points extended the home team's lead to nine (25-16), but the road team closed the first period strong. A quick first-step drive and nifty left-handed layup by Lewis, just before time expired, sliced Maccabi's edge to 25-22. Maccabi appeared to grab some momentum in the second quarter, but careless passing against an active Nahariya zone, along with continued quality play from Lewis, enabled the visitors to keep the contest within striking distance. Despite its failure to put the game away, an individual seven-point burst by Casspi in the half's waning minutes allowed Maccabi to take a 46-40 lead into the break. Tel Aviv overcame a largely sloppy third period with a late 12-3 run - capped by a Derrick Sharp trey to end the frame - and build a 69-57 lead heading into the fourth. Maccabi's advantage remained fairly steady throughout the final quarter, until a late 7-0 Nahariya run put a brief scare into the crowd and cut Tel Aviv's gap to four (80-76) with just under two minutes to go. That miserable foul-shooting performance, however, would be Nahariya's downfall. With a chance to cut Maccabi's lead to two with under a minute to play, Lewis missed a pair at the stripe, and four straight free throws on the other end aided Maccabi in sealing the win. Aside from the free throw disparity, Maccabi was also dominant on the glass, outrebounding Nahariya 43-23.