By Amy Samin
It didn’t take a miracle; all they needed was teamwork. Maccabi Electra Tel Aviv, with 31 assists and a combined index rating of 148, walloped Bnei Hasharon by forty points and reached their highest score so far this season, 113 – 73. Maccabi’s two big men, Shawn James and Richard Hendrix, scored 22 and 20 points respectively and combined for just over half of the team’s rebounds (9 and 12, respectively). Everyone who played for Maccabi pulled down at least one board, and nine of the ten made at least one assist. Shooters Devin Smith (17 points) and Keith Langford (16 points) also played extremely well, and Guy Pnini was phenomenal with no fewer than 11 assists.
Head coach David Blatt led off with Shawn James, Devin Smith, Yogev Ohayon, David Blu and Keith Langford. The teams traded baskets in the first couple of minutes of the game, until the home team took the lead off a dunk and a trey by Kenny Lawson to make it 9 – 4. Smith put Maccabi within two with a three pointer of his own (assist Blu) but Lawson (who had a solid night for Bnei Hasharon with 15 points, 3 rebounds, 3 steals and the team’s only block) responded with another bucket. A dish from Ohayon to Langford on the right wing brought Maccabi within one, and Maccabi’s defense stepped up a notch, with steals by Smith and Ohayon and an effective full-court-press. With four minutes left in the period another Blu to Smith combo put Maccabi back on top, 14 – 12. Richard Hendrix came into the game for James and got started pulling down boards and throwing down a dunk. Delroy James, brother to Maccabi’s Shawn, scored four points to put the hosts within one, but Hendrix added another bucket to finish the quarter with Maccabi leading 19 – 16.
The second quarter got underway with a slick assist from Hendrix to Blu in the paint, but Lawson continued to rack up the points for Bnei Hasharon with a three pointer and a deuce to tie the score at 21, just over a minute into the period. Jon Scheyer, who started the quarter for Maccabi, showed his usual intensity on defense, as did Ohayon, who also dished to Hendrix for a fastbreak layup. Tweety Carter, who had a phenomenal night for the hosts with 24 points, drained a three that put Bnei Hasharon back on top 24 -23, but a stop-and-pop by Ohayon put the lead back in Maccabi’s hands, two and a half minutes into the period. Two straight baskets in the paint by Hendrix and a drive in the lane by Ohayon gave Maccabi a comfortable 31 – 24 lead close to the halfway mark. Guy Pnini sank one of his classic threes from the left corner (assist Blu), then drilled a cross-court pass to Smith who added a trey from the right corner, 39 – 30 Maccabi with two and a half left in the period. Lawson sank a long three from the top of the arc for the home team, but James and Langford scored for Maccabi to make it a double digit lead, 44 – 33 with a minute and a half on the clock. James and Langford each added more points for the visitors to extend that lead to fifteen, but Carter’s three for the hosts at the end of the half sent the teams into the break with Maccabi leading 48 – 36.
Smith scored yet another bucket from downtown (he was 5 of 7 for the night) off an Ohayon dish to start things off in the third quarter, and Ohayon added points of his own off a dime from Hendrix. Carter and Jason Williams each downed a three for the hosts but Langford responded with two layups and a dish to Blu for a three; Maccabi’s lead swelled to 66 – 44. Hendrix and Blu added more points (assists by Pnini and Langford) for Maccabi, while Bnei Hasharon only managed to score from the charity stripe. Hendrix, Pnini and James all scored from there as well, but Del James responded with another trey for the hosts. Pnini added a drive to the basket and a steal, which Hendrix took coast-to-coast for a one handed dunk at the buzzer; 86 – 58 Maccabi.
Del James slammed home two points off an alley oop from Carter to kick off the fourth quarter, but big brother Shawn responded at the other end off a dish from Scheyer. S. James also dominated on defense, rejecting a shot by Lawson and pulling down boards to eliminate second chances for the home team. Blu drained a bomb from the top of the arc (assist Pnini) and team captain Tal Burstein got two buckets to make it 96 – 64, four minutes into the final period. Williams, Jared Mintz and Carter combined for a mini-run for Bnei Hasharon, but Alon Stein came into the game for Maccabi and revitalized the defense. S. James then went on a one-man scoring spree with help from Burstein, Scheyer, and Stein to make it 104 – 73. Scheyer and Pnini added layups and Burstein scored from downtown to set the final score at 113 – 73, giving Maccabi a 10 – 1 record at the end of the first round of the Lotto League season.
Maccabi: James 22 points, 9 rebounds, 3 blocks, 1 assist; Hendrix 20 points, 12 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 assists; Smith 17 points, 3 rebounds; Langford 16 points, 4 assists, 3 rebounds; Blu 12 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists; Pnini 9 points, 11 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal; Ohayon 8 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds, 2 steals; Burstein 7 points, 1 rebound, 1 assist; Scheyer 2 points, 3 assists, 1 rebound, 1 steal; Stein 1 rebound, 1 steal, 1 assist.
Top scorers for Bnei Hasharon: Carter 24 points; James 18 points; Lawson 15 points.