Nunnally’s career night paces Maccabi Tel Aviv to 94-78 win over Zalgiris

Feb 1, 2022 | Holyland Hoops

Maccabi Tel Aviv downed Zalgiris 94-78 as James Nunnally easily had his best game in Yellow & Blue scoring 32 points while going 6/7 from beyond the arc to help interim coach Avi Even pick up the win. The victory was Maccabi’s third in a row as they moved their record to just one game under .500, 10-11 on the season. Head coach Ioannis Sfairopoulos was unable to stand on the sidelines after having tested positive for COVID-19 late last week, however, he may be available for Thursday’s game at Bayern Munich.

Zalgiris grabbed an early lead on the strength of Marek Blazevic and Tyler Cavanaugh’s pinpoint perfect shooting but Nunnally and Wilbekin made sure to send the game into halftime all tied up at 47-47. However, Nunnally kept scoring at will throughout the second half as he cancelled out fine play by Lukas Lekavicius and Marek Blazevic to hand Maccabi the 16-point win.

Ante Zizic- Photo Credit: Elad Goldstein/Maccabi Tel Aviv

Nunnally led all scorers with 32 points, Wilbekin added 20 points and Ante Zizic chipped in with 13 points in the win. Marek Blazevic scored 20 points, Lukas Lekavicius added 16 points and 8 assists while Tyler Cavanaugh scored 16 points in the win.

“I think we kept the consistency on defense and we just kept playing our tempo and our game,” Avi Even said. The guys did great effort in the second half defensively. We shared the ball in a beautiful way and I am happy it went in. These guys worked hard all week and the last week with coach Ioannis and I just came here to help the guys out on the floor whatever they can to enjoy and to win the game.”

Avi Even – Photo Credit: Elad Goldstein/Maccabi Tel Aviv

“Halftime we got more disciplined and focussed on the defensive end, being in the right spots,” explained MVP James Nunnally after the game. “Offensively my teammates were looking for me and finding me, setting good screens and making great passes and I just knocked down the shots. I just played the game, make the right play an my teammates found me in the right position.”

Zalgiris head coach Jure Zdovc also reflected on the game, “They scored some unbelievable shots and we missed open shots. We can do a better job and we let them get in to a rhythm. I’m very disappointed, we cannot win without defense.”

Marek Blazevic- Photo Credit: Zalgiris

Zalgiris had the hot hand early on in the first quarter as Tyler Cavanaugh nailed a pair of triples and Lukas Lekavicius added one as well while Maccabi Tel Aviv countered with baskets by James Nunnally and Ante Zizic as Keenan Evans put down a dunk to give the visitors a 15-13 lead midway through the period. Cavanaugh and Nunnally traded baskets while Jalen Reynolds also added points to give the Yellow & Blue a 21-19 lead after ten minutes of play.

Angelo Caloiaro and Karolis Lukosiunas traded triples, Lekavicius and Edgaras Ulanovas scored as well, but Scottie Wilbekin went from downtown as the score was all knotted up at 28-28 with 5:36 left in the second quarter. Nunnally dialed up long distance and added a deuce, Marek Blazevic countered for the hosts as did Lukosiunas and Lekavicius while Wilbekin and Zizic answered for Maccabi to send the game into halftime tied at 47-47.

James Nunnally – Photo Credit: Elad Goldstein/Maccabi Tel Aviv

Ulanovas scored to begin the third quarter Evans and Wilbekin answered while Nunnally also scored from beyond the arc to put Maccabi in front 55-51 midway through the frame. Blazevic and Zizic traded baskets inside, Wilbekin went from deep as did Nunnally but Lekavicius and Arturas Milaknis kept Zalgiris hanging around but down 64-60 after thirty minutes of action.

Scottie Wilbekin – Photo Credit: Elad Goldstein/Maccabi Tel Aviv

Nunnally, Zizic and Dibartolomeo got busy for Avi Even’s squad while Lukosiunas, Blazevic and Cavanaugh found points for Jure Zdovc’s side as Maccabi held onto the advantage 74-69 with 6:31 remaining in the fourth quarter. Wilbekin drilled home a 3-pointer, Nunnally scored in the paint, Williams dunked and added a corner 3-ball as did Evans to run away with the double digit win.

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