PORTLAND – The Maine Red Claws finally shared some of their early-season road success with the hometown fans.
After losing their first two home games of the season, while countering with victories in their first three road games, the Red Claws sent their faithful home happy Saturday thanks to a 116-113 victory over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.
“I think what everyone has to understand is winning games is hard work,” said Red Claws Coach Mike Taylor.
The Red Claws (4-2) gave their fans full value for the price of admission as the outcome came down to the final shot. Only a narrowly missed 3-pointer by Darryl Partin at the buzzer kept the game from going into overtime.
The Red Claws got off to a quick start thanks to eight early points, including two backboard rattling dunks by Chris Wright. The Claws never trailed in the opening period and put together a 10-4 run to complete the quarter to grab a 30-22 advantage.
The lead was short-lived. The Mad Ants (2-5) exploded into the second quarter and quickly took the lead with an 11-0 run in the opening 2 ½ minutes. Walker Russell was the catalyst with nine of the 11 points.
“Unfortunately we changed our shot selection, our defensive effort and attention to details and we relaxed a little bit,” said Taylor. “That’s something we’ll talk about with the guys and we’ll work on.”
Fort Wayne managed to work its way into a seven-point advantage, but Maine regained the lead with an impressive closing kick in the final two minutes of the half. DaJuan Summer started the run with the Red Claws’ first successful 3-pointer after six misses from beyond the arc. Maine finished by connecting on two of three 3-pointers as it completed the half on a 12-2 run that delivered a 59-56 lead.
“We didn’t want the same thing that happened last week (a loss against Los Angeles in the home opener) to happen again tonight,” said Shelvin Mack, who paced the Red Claws with 26 points. “We just tried to concentrate and stick to it, take care of the little details and play the full 48.”
The Red Claws padded their lead early in the second half with a 10-0 run to open up a 69-58 advantage. Xavier Silas had five points in the run, which gave the Red Claws the largest lead of the game at 69-58.
But the Mad Ants chipped away and tied the game at 98-98 midway through the fourth quarter.
“Fort Wayne came in here and played an excellent game and played with tremendous energy and effort,” said Taylor. “They made it extremely difficult on us and took advantage of some of our mistakes.”
NOTES: Fab Melo missed the game due to a strained quadriceps suffered Thursday in Erie. His status is day-to-day. …
Kris Joseph has been reassigned to the Red Claws by the Celtics. He has appeared in three games for Boston, scoring two points in nine minutes of action. He has played in three game for the Red Claws, averaging 21.7 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.3 steals.