Nunnally's career night carries Maccabi over the ice-cold Zalgiris

2022-02-01 19:59
Credit: BNS

Maccabi Playtika Tel Aviv (10-11) extended their winning streak to three straight in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague, taking down Zalgiris Kaunas (3-17) 94-78 (21-19, 26-28, 17-13, 30-18).

Zalgiris fought back from being down by six at the start of the fourth (60-66). Marek Blazevic cut their deficit to three (65-68), but Maccabi went on a 10-2 run, increasing their advantage to 13 with under three minutes remaining (86-73).

Zalgiris weren't able to recover from such a blow, losing by 16. The hosts suffered their seventh straight contest at the strongest European competition.

Player of the Game
James  Nunnally
James Nunnally
Points 32
Accuracy 12-14
Rebounds 2
Assists 1

James Nunnally recorded EuroLeague career-highs in scoring and efficiency tonight. He finished with 32 points (6/7 2PT, 6/7 3PT, 2/2 FT), 2 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block, 1 turnover, and 38 PIR. His previous bests were 26 points and 33 PIR.

"We got more disciplined in the second half, and focused on the defensive end, being in the right spots," Nunnally said. "And offensively, my teammates were looking for me, finding me, setting good screens, making great passes, and I just knocked down shots. I just play the game, and if I am open shoot it. I try to make the right play."

On the opposing side, the 20-year-old Zalgiris' prospect Marek Blazevic also had a career night scoring and efficiency-wise. He finished with 20 points (7/11 2PT, 6/6 FT), 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, 1 turnover, and 26 PIR. Blazevic's previous records were 13 points and 19 PIR.

The teams went back and forth in the first period. Tyler Cavanaugh caught fire, scoring 10 points in the quarter. However, Zalgiris were down by two after the first 10 minutes (19-21).

Zalgiris took the lead in the second, gaining a five-point advantage after the second 3-pointer by Karolis Lukosiunas (43-38). However, Maccabi weathered the storm, evening the game up at 47 going into the break.

Marek Blazevic scored his 16th point in the third, but that didn't help Zalgiris lead. Scottie Wilbekin and James Nunnally nailed two straight 3-pointer, putting Maccabi up by nine towards the end of the period (64-55).

Head coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos and center Jake Cohen did not travel to Lithuania with Maccabi. They are out due to Covid.

"I think we kept consistency on defense, and we just kept playing our tempo, our game," Maccabi interim-coach Avi Evan said. "These guys worked hard the whole week, and before with Coach Giannis, and I came here to help these guys to put on the floor whatever they can, to enjoy and to win this game."

Mantas Kalnietis (ankle injury) and Josh Nebo (Covid) were absent for Zalgiris. However, Joffrey Lauvergne returned to the lineup after a lengthy absence. He played for 9.5 minutes, missing all four 2-pointers and grabbing 4 rebounds.

Janis Strelnieks also appeared in the contest, only playing for two minutes before going to the end of the bench.

Maccabi: James Nunnally 32, Scottie Wilbekin 20 (6 AST), Ante Zizic 13, Keenan Evans 10 (5 REB, 6 AST), Derrick Williams 9.

Zalgiris: Marek Blazevic 20, Tyler Cavanaugh 16, Lukas Lekavicius 16 (9 AST), Edgaras Ulanovas 10 (6 REB), Karolis Lukosiunas 9.



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