PORTLAND – As if the third quarter could not get worse for the Maine Red Claws, high-scoring guard Micah Downs limped his way to the bench after spraining a foot.
The Red Claws were running out of ways to catch up.
And they didn’t.
The Rio Grande Valley Vipers dominated the second half for a 113-95 victory before 2,882 at the Expo.
Maine dropped to 17-12. The Red Claws fell out of first place in the NBA D-League East Division, as Canton (18-11) beat Fort Wayne Saturday.
Rio Grande Valley, affiliate of the Houston Rockets, improved to 16-9 and continues to lead the Central Division.
Not only did Maine lose Downs in the third quarter, but point guard Andre Barrett was hobbled with a tweaked hamstring muscle, playing only 26 minutes.
“It went from a difficult situation to a more compounded one,” Red Claws Coach Mike Taylor said.
Maine was again without the services of two of its post players, DaJuan Summers (strained hamstring) and Fab Melo, who remained with the Boston Celtics after being called up earlier in the week.
“We just have to keep ourselves moving and keep positive and get the most out of the guys who are healthy,” Taylor said.
Guard Omar Reed came off the bench to lead Maine with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Downs still scored 20 in 29 minutes. Chris Wright added 18 points and nine rebounds. Xaxier Silas scored 16.
Rio Grande Valley featured 6-foot-9 Rocket rookie forward Terrence Jones from Kentucky. A first-round pick, Jones scored 27, adding seven rebounds.
“He did a pretty good job,” Vipers Coach Nick Nurse said. “Our focus is getting him on the glass and scoring more inside.”
Maine led 59-52 at halftime. The Vipers began the third quarter with a 7-0 run to tie it.
Down 64-63, Rio Grande Valley streaked again for 11 straight points and a lead it would not surrender.
Then Downs got hurt. The early diagnosis is a sprained foot. He will be re-evaluated.
The Red Claws travel to familiar foe Springfield this Thursday.
NOTES: Maine added 7-foot post player Garrett Stutz to the roster on Saturday. Stutz, 22, out of Wichita State, played for the Celtics’ and Timberwolves’ summer league teams. He played briefly for Korea before signing a D-League contract and scored 11 on Saturday.
Melo could be with Boston for a while since Jared Sullinger underwent season-ending back surgery. … Melo made his NBA debut Friday with 2:38 of playing time, recording one steal. Former Red Claws guard Terrel Harris (2009-10) started for Rio Grande Valley. Harris played all last season and half of this year with the Miami Heat. He was waived in early January. … Two of Rio Grande Valley’s three NBA players were not in Portland. Center Dontas Motiejunas was recalled by Houston and forward Royce White will report to the Vipers on Feb. 11. … Taylor, an assistant coach for Rio Grande Valley last year, last coached against Nurse in Great Britain 10 years ago.
Staff writer Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: