PORTLAND — Fort Wayne guard Walker Russell stands 6-foot-1. So when he drove for a layup against 7-foot center Fab Melo, Russell used his speed to fly around Melo.
But as Russell released the ball, 6-8 Chris Wright soared in and swatted it away.
Wright explodes from point A to point D, skipping B and C. He zips by defenders for crowd-pleasing dunks, and launches into the stands for determined rebounds.
Wright notched a double-double Friday night, tallying 22 points and 15 rebounds (plus four steals and two blocks), helping the Maine Red Claws to a 109-99 victory over Fort Wayne at the Portland Expo.
“Chris Wright is tremendously athletic, tremendously explosive,” Maine Coach Mike Taylor said. “He’s really a good team guy, and he’s a fighter.
“Tonight, people saw that when he’s got it going, he’s finishing those dunks and making those steals, doing so many things on both ends of the floor to help your team win.”
Wright’s was not the only double-double celebration. Point guard Shelvin Mack continued his streak of impressive games, recording 27 points and 12 assists.
Mack hit three 3-pointers, while driving often to the basket. Scoreless in the first quarter (with Maine down 30-20), Mack took over, scoring 12 points in the second quarter.
“After the first quarter, I felt we needed a wake-up call,” Mack said. “As a point guard, you have to understand the game. It was time for me to get aggressive.”
Maine (7-3) also received assistance from Xavier Silas (19 points) and Micah Downs (10 points). Melo had eight points and six rebounds in 22 minutes of play.
Fort Wayne (3-9) is now 0-4 against Maine this year. The Mad Ants were led by guard Ron Howard’s 30 points.
Maine trailed most of the first half, until Silas’ driving lay-up at the buzzer gave the Red Claws a 51-50 halftime lead.
Maine tightened its defense and got it’s offense going.
“It took a while for our team to get a rhythm,” Taylor said. “To have Shelvin stabilize things during that stretch was tremendous.”
Off the bench, forwards DaJuan Summers (nine points, two blocks) and Chris Ayer (eight points and three blocks) contributed on both ends.
NOTES: Guard/forward Kris Joseph was recalled by the Boston Celtics Friday for their game at the Garden. Boston is short-handed and Joseph is likely staying with the team through next week. The announced attendance was 2,043. The Claws play tonight at 7 at the Expo, against the Erie BayHawks. The Knicks had sent Amare Stoudemire, Chris Copeland and James White to Erie on Tuesday but it was only for practice. They were recalled to New York on Thursday. Former Red Claws guard Morris Almond played his third game for Iowa Friday. He is averaging 15 points. Maine had the rights to Almond, who played parts of two seasons with the Red Claws, but traded them to Iowa 10 days ago for a second-round draft pick in 2013. Fort Wayne and Maine get a five-week break from each other, next meeting on Jan. 31.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: