SPRINGFIELD, MASS. – The Portland Red Claws fed off their youthful energy, but their inexperience down the stretch hurt during a 96-86 loss to the Springfield Armor on Thursday night.

It was the fourth straight loss for the Red Claws, who have not won since beating Tulsa on Jan. 30. This is probably a good time for them to return home, where they will host the Armor tonight and Sunday.

“Hopefully, we’ll get back into it when we get some of that home cooking and find a little spark,” Red Claws Coach Austin Ainge said. “I don’t think our effort is horrible — it’s not great — but it’s concentration, and sometimes it’s the second and third effort.

Springfield played like a desperate team. The Armor ended a six-game losing streak and won for the first time since Jan. 21 when they beat Bakersfield.

The Red Claws missed too many shots, made some costly turnovers and let the Armor control the inside, much to the delight of the crowd of 3,904 at the MassMutual Center. Portland was 7 of 24 from 3-point range.

Tiny Gallon and Jamar Smith led the Red Claws with 16 points apiece. Jamar Smith added 10.

“We do have some weary legs and I tried to limit our starters’ minutes,” Ainge said. “We were hoping to get a little spark off the bench, but it didn’t work out.”

Springfield was led by Scottie Reynolds, who scored 20 points and frustrated the Red Claws with six steals.

“We just couldn’t get a rebound,” Ainge said. “It’s hard to get a win on the road when they get 20 offensive rebounds and we had 20 turnovers, a lot which were unforced.”

The Armor seized control of what was a close game with a 14-4 run to start the fourth quarter. Consecutive baskets by Gavin Edwards gave the Armor with an 86-72 lead with 7:03 remaining.

The fourth-quarter collapse was uncharacteristic of the Red Claws, who are 4-3 against the Armor.

“We have some good players but we just need to play together more,” Ainge said. “The chemistry is just not there right now.”

Portland picked up its game at the start of the third quarter. A 3-pointer by DeShawn Sims fueled a 15-6 run that gave the Red Claws a 65-56 lead. Portland ran the floor much better than it did during the first half.

But the Armor would not let the Red Claws get comfortable. A steal and subsequent layup by Reynolds cut the Portland lead to 65-62 with 5:05 left in the third quarter. With just over two minutes left in the quarter, Tre Whitted hit a jumper as the Armor closed to within 67-66.

The Armor took a 72-70 lead on a Gavin Edwards basket with 22.7 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The Red Claws played for the last shot, but missed it.