PORTLAND – Xavier Silas signed programs. He signed shirts, hats and basketballs. He posed for pictures as a small crowd gathered around him on the court.
Fortunately for the Maine Red Claws, Silas shook off defenders much more easily.
Silas came off the bench and scored 21 points to lead Maine to a 110-106 win over the Iowa Energy on Saturday night before 2,953 at the Portland Expo.
“X has done a great job in that role of being that energizing sixth man that does so many things on the floor,” Maine Coach Mike Taylor said.
Silas came up big at the end.
Maine trailed with 5:30 left, but Silas hit one of his three 3-pointers for a 95-93 lead.
With the score tied 98-98, Silas drove in for a basket and a free throw. He then popped in a jumper with 2:57 left for a 103-98 lead.
The Red Claws never trailed after.
It was Maine’s fifth straight win as the Red Claws improved to 15-8, sitting atop the NBA D-League’s East Division.
The Energy dropped their third consecutive game, falling to 6-15. This Iowa team, which has an impressive roster, is 1-7 in January.
“Just trying to figure it out and put it together,” said former Red Claws guard Morris Almond, who scored 19 for the Energy.
“We have a lot of individual talent. Young talent. We’re in every game, but a lot of our games end like this.”
Iowa jumped out to a 16-6 lead. Maine crept back. The 6-foot-5 Silas entered in the first quarter. He made a steal and finished the fast break with a dunk. Then he drove through traffic for another dunk.
“Came in and got some easy ones,” Silas said. “Any time that happens, it’s going to be a good night.”
A lot of Red Claws had a good night. Micah Downs recorded 19 points and eight rebounds, along with four assists and for steals.
Rookie center Fab Melo had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. He also blocked four shots.
“The big thing is we see the progress in Fab,” Taylor said. “We’re really excited about his consistency. That’s the most difficult thing for a young player.”
Champ Oguchi (four 3-pointers) and Chris Wright both scored 16 points, while Omar Reed added 10.
Point guard Andre Barrett recorded eight of the team’s 29 assist.
“Twenty-nine assists is excellent,” Taylor said. “These guys played a lot of great team basketball on both ends of the floor.”
Maine made 11 steals, including one by Reed with 14 seconds left and the Claws up 107-104. Reed, a 6-6 forward, then sank a free throw to put the game out of reach.
Reed, who has struggled to get minutes, found himself in the game at crunch time.
“It feels good to be one of the guys on the court at the end,” Reed said. “It shows that Coach has trust in me.
“I’ve been waiting for my opportunity to contribute and show how much I can play.
We have a lot of great players on this team. Had to be patient as much as I can be.”
NOTES: Forward DaJuan Summers (strained quad) sat out his second straight game. … The Red Claws are off today and return to the Expo on Monday for a 1 p.m. game against the Springfield Armor (6-14). … Almond said he enjoyed his time back in Portland, despite the losses: “I forgot how much I missed this place.”
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: