PORTLAND – They may not have looked stellar in their last game, but the Maine Red Claws still lead the NBA D-League East Division and their 9-5 record is second-best in the league.

And they are back in Portland for three games this week, starting with today’s 1 p.m. New Year’s Eve special against the Springfield Armor.

Maine is coming off an 101-87 loss Saturday night at Sioux Falls, S.D. The defeat was the only setback on a grueling three-game road trip that began with a flight on Christmas Day, and ended with the team scheduled to arrive in Portland at 2 a.m. Monday (after a bus breakdown disrupted Sunday’s travel plans).

The fact that Maine is still winning is impressive since they were without two of their impact players last week — point guard Shelvin Mack and forward Chris Wright.

Mack signed a non-guaranteed contract with the Washington Wizards, the team he played for all last season. This past week, Mack played three games with Washington, starting two, averaging 5.7 points and 4.3 assists per game.

Guard Xavier Silas has moved into the point guard role for Maine.

Wright, averaging 15.8 point and 8.8 rebounds for the Red Claws, has missed three games with a concussion. It is not known when he will return.

Forward DaJuan Summers has stepped into Wright’s vacancy and scored 65 points over the last three games, with 32 rebounds.

The Red Claws added a point guard to fill Mack’s vacancy on the roster — 5-foot-9 rookie Hank Thorns from Texas Christian University. Thorns, 23, was in the Los Angeles Clippers preseason camp. He was cut, then drafted by the Idaho Stampede in the fourth round of the D-League draft, then cut again.

In three games with Maine, Thorns is averaging 4.3 assists.

This will be Maine’s first game this season against Springfield (4-7), the only other D-League team in New England.

The Red Claws remain in Portland for 7 p.m. games Friday (Erie) and Saturday (Canton).

NOTE: Today’s promotion features the family-friendly Zooperstars, a comedy team of inflatable mascots.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH