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Looking for miracle against NBA team, Maccabi Tel Aviv comes up a bit short

JERUSALEM, Oct. 12 (JTA) — There was no miracle here in Israel — at least not on Monday night, when the NBA’s Miami Heat defeated Maccabi Tel Aviv by a score of 126-91. The exhibition basketball game was the first between an NBA team and an Israeli team in the Jewish state since Maccabi Tel Aviv defeated the Washington Bullets in 1978. The high point for the home team came in the first half, when Maccabi tied the score 36-36 in the middle of the second quarter. The nearly 9,000 spectators packed into the Yad Eliahu stadium were on their feet. But the coach of the Heat, Pat Riley, returned superstars Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning to the court, and from then on the only question was the margin of the Heat’s victory. The Heat outshot its hosts by 55 percent to 35 percent, and outrebounded them, by 66-32. In the final quarter, Riley sent in his bench players, which slightly evened out the game. At a postgame news conference, Riley said Miami played well, considering that it was an exhibition game. “We beat a good team, but we had more talent,” Riley said. “All we kept hearing before we came was that the Bullets had come here and lost,” he added, referring to the 1978 match. Riley said he was impressed with Maccabi’s Nate Huffman, who scored 14 points and pulled down 11 rebounds. Asked if he thought Huffman had NBA potential, Riley said, “He’s just a bit raw, but he’s big, smart, mobile and can shoot.” Maccabi coach Pinni Gershon seemed relatively pleased as well. “It’s not so nice to lose by such a wide margin, but it’s not terrible. This is one of the best teams in the NBA and could win the championship,” he said. “We saw the differences between the NBA and Europe,” but we had a “good performance and the crowd enjoyed it.” Before the game, there was a moment of silence to honor Ted Arison, the wealthy Israeli American businessman and founder of the Heat, who recently died in Tel Aviv at the age of 75.