PORTLAND – NBA guard Tyshawn Taylor remembers playing against Chris Wright four years ago. Taylor’s Kansas team faced Wright’s Dayton Flyers in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
“All coach kept saying about him is to watch out because he’s an athlete,” Taylor said. “He’s been doing things like this for a while.”
What Wright did was score 25 points and grab a team-record 20 rebounds to lead the Maine Red Claws to a 120-112 win over the Springfield Armor Sunday afternoon before a sold-out crowd of 3,045 at the Expo.
Taylor, the Brooklyn Nets rookie who has been assigned to Springfield, led all scorers with 27.
The game was not as close as the score indicated, with the Nets notching the final seven points of the game.
Maine (17-10) ended its two-game losing streak, while moving back into a tie for first place in the NBA D-League East Division. Springfield (8-16) saw its two-game winning streak end.
While the Armor had Taylor, they did not have their other NBA player on loan from the Nets, 6-foot-10 forward Toko Shengelia, who was averaging 28 points in his four D-League games. Shengelia suffered a cut under his eye in a game Saturday night and was held out as a precaution.
Maine was also without starters. NBA center Fab Melo and leading scorer and rebounder DaJuan Summer were both in civilian clothes with strained quadricep muscles.
“Without Fab and DaJuan, I knew I really had to pick it up,” Wright said. “Really just wanted to come out and have energy.
“I just wanted to grab every rebound I could. You can always shoot too much. Pass too much. Dribble too much. But you can never rebound too much.”
Wright was soaring, sometimes too much, occasionally jarring the ball out of his teammates’ hands. But mostly it was Wright grabbing the ball and starting another break.
“They out-rebounded us (51-42) and Chris Wright was terrific tonight,” Springfield Coach Bob MacKinnon said. “That was the difference in the game.”
Wright had all of his rebounds after three quarters. But he was not the only one crashing the board. Guard Omar Reed, who continues to see more playing time, recorded 15 points and nine rebounds, along with five assists.
“Omar was fantastic for us,” Taylor said. “15-nine-five, and he played great defense. He’s earned more and more minutes, more of a role.”
Micah Downs recorded 23 points (five 3-pointers) and eight rebounds.
Center Scott VanderMeer added eight rebounds. Other leaders included guard Xavier Silas (24 points) and Andre Barrett (12 assists).
The Red Claws were playing after a day’s rest, following a 120-101 lopsided loss to Santa Cruz Friday night.
Maine coach Mike Taylor said his team was tired after playing in Springfield Thursday night (a 123-115 loss).
Springfield, which had Friday off, beat Santa Cruz Saturday night (111-100), but then had to bus to Portland, arriving at 2:30 a.m. Sunday — 121/2 hours before game time.
MacKinnon didn’t blame the travel.
“All we did was bus here. Slept in. Got up and played basketball,” MacKinnon said. “There’s no excuse not to have energy. They’re 20 years old.”
NOTES: Maine officially waived guard Champ Oguchi, who is expected to join a yet-to-be-announced team overseas.
The Red Claws next play Thursday at Fort Wayne. They come back to Portland Saturday for a 7 p.m game against Rio Grande Valley.
Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at: