PORTLAND – Sometimes coaches need to look at the game film to figure out what went wrong in a loss. Dave Leitao, the head coach of the Maine Red Claws, didn’t have to watch anything a second time Friday night.

“For four quarters we never, ever, ever had a stretch where we defended,” he said after the Red Claws lost 119-112 to the Austin Toros at the Portland Expo. “That was it.”

The Toros picked Maine’s defense apart, especially guards Justin Dentmon and Lester Hudson, who continually drove past defenders into gaping holes in the middle of the Red Claws’ defense. Dentmon finished with 31 points; Hudson added 19.

Hudson, a 2009 draft pick of the Boston Celtics, joined the Toros on Thursday, arriving around midnight. He scored seven points in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter to rally Austin from a 91-88 deficit.

The loss was damaging to Maine’s playoff hopes. At 17-25, Maine likely will have to win its final eight games to even have a chance.

“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” said Leitao. “We knew we would have to play our best. And I don’t think tonight was our best.”

Even with their defensive lapses, the Red Claws seemed to be in control through three quarters. Morris Almond (30 points, 10 rebounds) and Kenny Hayes (26 points, 10 assists) were hitting their shots. And Lawrence Hill scored 12 in the third to help the Red Claws to a 91-88 lead entering the fourth.

But Austin, which had lost 7 of 10 coming in, kept charging back.

When Luke Zeller hit a 3-pointer from the right of the key with 11:03 left, Austin went up 93-91 and never trailed again. Hudson followed by splitting the defense and scoring on a drive, then powered his way inside and drew contact, and hit a 10-foot floater and the subsequent foul shot to make it 98-91.

Maine didn’t get closer than five because the Toros kept hitting big shots: Dentmon a 3-point bomb from the right wing, Da’Sean Butler a 3-pointer from the left corner.

“They hit big shots,” said Hayes. “We thought we were playing good defense and they’d still hit the shot. And that would kill our momentum.”

It was a big win for Austin (25-16), which is in second in the West. In fact, given the circumstances — with recent call-ups and injuries — Coach Brad Jones called it “one of our best wins of the year.”

“I thought Maine played pretty dang well,” he continued. “It would have been easy for us, especially the way Maine played, to get blown out of here. But we made the adjustments. It wasn’t the coach, I’ll tell you that. It was the players.”

The outcome was disappointing to the Red Claws because they had been playing much better lately, especially defensively.

“It was everything we’ve been talking about,” said Leitao. “And everything we thought we corrected.”

But, said Hill, the team lacked focus during the week in practice and at the shoot-around. And it showed once the game started.

“We weren’t prepared,” he said. “The most important thing now is to see how we bounce back.”

NOTES: The Red Claws were down to nine players for the game. Guard Courtney Pigram was not with the team for personal reasons. These teams will meet again at 1 p.m. Sunday. McAuley High’s Class A girls’ basketball championship team was honored on the court during a timeout in the first quarter. Senior guard Sadie DiPierro carried the Gold Ball to center court.

Hudson most recently played in China, where he averaged 34 points per game while leading the league in steals (he had five against the Red Claws) and ranking third in assists. “He showed why he’s been an NBA player,” said Jones. “We’re excited to have him down the stretch.”

Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH