Final 24 seconds dooms Maccabi Tel Aviv in loss to Red Star: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Nov 25, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

On Thursday, Maccabi Tel Aviv lost a game they could’ve won (and many would argue should’ve won) to remain winless away from home, in its round 10 EuroLeague clash against Crvena Zvezda (Red Star) Belgrade, falling 69-68. Does this seem repetitive? Maybe because Maccabi lost another winnable game in Belgrade only last week, when it lost to Partizan 96-88. Maccabi looked flat for large parts of the game against the now 13th-placed Red Star, scoring a season low – that’s right, even less points than against the round 2 clash against 1st-placed Fenerbahçe.

Nemanja Nedovic (12 points) and Hassan Martin (11 points) both came off the bench to lead the scoring for the home side, while Lorenzo Brown (23 points, 6 rebounds and 7 assists) and Roman Sorkin (16 points and 6 rebounds) led the scoring for the visitors. Here are some of my thoughts from the game.

Photo Credit: Red Star

The Good: Lorenzo Brown
There was a lot of hype in Tel Aviv surrounding Brown – the former Red Star guard – coming into the season after leading Spain to their EuroBasket championship over the summer. While he is clearly one of the elite players in the EuroLeague when he is at his best, he had some subpar performances in recent weeks, including 8 points in a little under 35 minutes against Partizan and 4 points in 27 minutes against Hapoel Tel Aviv. However, last night he put in his best performance in recent weeks – and one of his best performances in a Maccabi uniform – with a game high performance index rating of 30 (only second to his 33 against Panathinaikos earlier this season) and scoring one-third of his team’s points (which is not ideal for the team, however shows the extent of his importance to the game).

A couple of things stood out for me about his game. In the first quarter, Brown had a hand in more than half of Maccabi’s points, shooting 3/4 from behind the arch and dishing out one assist to keep the yellow and blue in the game as Red Star got out to a 27-18 lead after 10 minutes. Then, in the last quarter, although he missed the last shot (more about that below), early in the frame he found Josh Nebo (10 points ) three times, helping him get involved in the game when it was on the line.

Wade Baldwin – Photo Credit: Euroleague

The Bad: Second quarter offense
While Maccabi’s defense worked a lot better in the second quarter, keeping Red Star to only 9 points, the yellow and blue could not capitalize on the other end of the court, being restricted to 11 points, with only Sorkin (2 points for the quarter), Wade Baldwin IV (6 points, 3 assists and 6 turnovers for the game; 4 points in the second quarter), Bonzie Colson (3 points – all coming in the second quarter – and 3 rebounds) and Darrun Hilliard (2 points – both coming in the second quarter) hitting the scoreboard.

At the end of the quarter, Austin Hollins (3 rebounds) made a 3-pointer, which was ultimately overturned by the referees after a review. Maccabi won the quarter, but went into the locker room down 36-29.

“As long as we stay focused, work on our defense, then our offense will come with it,” Brown said at the end of the first half. While Maccabi did score 39-33 in the second half, ultimately it wasn’t enough to get the win.

Austin Hollins – Photo Credit: Euroleague

The Ugly: The final 24 seconds
With just over three minutes to go, two points from Ognjen Dobric (5 points) gave Red Star an 8 point lead and things looked bleak for the visitors. However, 4 points from each of Brown and Sorkin brought the scores to 69-68 in the host’s favor with 50 seconds to go. Luca Vildoza (6 points and 3 assists) – who spoke with The Sports Rabbi prior to the game – had the chance to ice the game for Red Star, but missed his shot for 3, and Maccabi then had the ball for the last play of the game.

Baldwin had the first attempt to bring the ball up the court, but lost the ball to Nikola Ivanovic (6 points and 3 assists) and, through luck, Red Star’s Martin lost his feet (and the ball) down the other end and, with 9.3 seconds to go, Maccabi had another opportunity to win the game.

Baldwin, under the defensive basket, inbounded the ball to Hollins who, inexplicably held onto it for what seemed to be an eternity and did not move at all for nearly 3 whole seconds, at which point he passed the ball to Brown, who in the 6.5 seconds left brought the ball up the court – while being defended tightly by Branko Lazic (1 assist and 1 steal) – and took the last shot of the game, a difficult shot from behind the arch, which missed the mark.

Josh Nebo – Photo Credit: Euroleague

“The last few possessions, we weren’t able to make shots, we weren’t able to execute the way we wanted to, and I think that was the decisive moment of the game,” Nebo said.

“Obviously, a tough loss for us. In the end, it comes down to last-minute actions and individuals,” Maccabi coach Oded Katash said to the media immediately after the end of the game. “At the end of the game, when you get to the last ball you need a bit of luck, a whistle from the referee. I think that the whistles at the end of the game were not in our favor. It’s a painful loss, we really wanted it. The players made a huge effort.”

Lorenzo Brown- Photo Credit: Euroleague

Up Next: The Israeli Classico and a trip to Germany
The Maccabi players now have the Israeli weekend to recover before a Sunday night game against Hapoel Jerusalem at Yad Eliyahu, followed by another away game in the EuroLeague on Friday night against 15th-place Bayern Munich, who play tonight at Monaco.

While Maccabi sit undefeated in first sport on the Israeli table, Jerusalem had a slow start to the season, they have won four games in a row in the local competition (and five games in a row in all competitions), seeing them in 4th spot in the Israeli League on the back of convincing victories over Hapoel Haifa (74-57) and Hapoel Galil Elion (89-70) in the last two weeks.

While Maccabi still sits in 8th spot in the EuroLeague at 5 wins and 5 losses, they have played 6 games at home and only 4 on the road. As Maccabi goes searching for its first win away from home, they are coming up against a Bayern team that will itself be looking for its second win at home for the season, a game which will cause the losing team to sound alarm bells even at this relatively early stage of the season.

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