PORTLAND – Tiny Gallon busted his way to the basket Sunday night, shouting to the rafters of the Portland Expo after a reverse layup late in the fourth quarter.
His 25 points led the way for the Maine Red Claws in a 119-111 win over the rival Springfield Armor.
It was a season high in points for Maine (3-4) and a strong team performance by a group looking like it’s coming together.
“I had my mind set on staying aggressive. I just got to the rack and finished,” said Gallon. “I tried to use my 300 pounds. You’ve got to just have fun. Take the game seriously but have fun.”
Maine struggled badly Friday night in a 105-99 loss to Fort Wayne and spent Saturday making adjustments.
The result? Ball movement was sharper, passes were kicked out to the perimeter and back in, allowing cleaner looks for shots.
Jamar Smith was a standout in his first game at point guard. He scored 20 points and had 10 assists while guarding Terrence Williams, recently assigned from the New Jersey Nets. Williams scored 36 points.
“Everyone wanted to be unselfish today,” said Smith. “We wanted to play as a unit.”
Six Red Claws scored in double digits. Guard Kenny Hayes had 13, including a run of seven straight to close the first quarter. Paul Harris put up 18, Champ Oguchi 16 and Mario West scored 14 with three assists.
“That was way better. I was real proud of our guys,” said Coach Austin Ainge. “We moved the ball and shared the ball, so we got easy looks. We made adjustments and they really tried to do it.”
Nothing was as effective as Gallon, a 6-foot-10, 310-pound rookie out of Oklahoma, whose size and quickness for a big man have his teammates talking.
“I hear that phone ringing,” called teammate Paul Harris to Gallon as he returned to the locker room post-game. “He let the game come to him tonight.”
“(Gallon) should be un-guardable down there,” said Ainge. “He should bully his way to the rim every time and try to get to the line.”
Hayes’ seven point run gave Maine a 29-28 lead after one quarter.
The Claws stretched the lead to nine points before the Armor tied it 53-53 with less than two minutes to play. But Oguchi’s two free throws gave Maine a 55-54 edge by halftime.
Maine never looked back in the second half after taking a 63-61 lead just minutes into the third quarter.
After three it was 86-77 and Maine stayed in command in the fourth, never letting the Armor closer than seven points.
“We didn’t get the consecutive stops we needed to,” said Springfield Coach Dee Brown. “When you’re down, you can’t start trading baskets.”
Brown said Gallon was difficult to defend: “He’s a load. He’s a good player, an NBA player. He’s got good footwork and is fast.
“He gets up and down the court too. Once he beats you down the court, you better hope they don’t get the ball to him.”
NOTES: Former Red Claw Mike Williams was on the Springfield bench but did not get in the game.
Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at: