PORTLAND – The Maine Red Claws were nearly at full strength Friday night at the Portland Expo — but it was not enough to beat a very strong Bakersfield Jam team.
Bakersfield, which sports the best record in the NBA D-League (20-9), had Maine playing catch-up most of the night, beating the Red Claws 104-94.
Maine (18-13) was led by Chris Wright, who recorded 27 points and 13 rebounds. Kris Joseph scored 23.
The Red Claws have been bolstered recently by the return by some of thier best players.
Joseph signed back with Maine a month after being released by the Boston Celtics.
Point guard Shelvin Mack is back after playing on successive 10-day contracts for the Philadelphia 76ers.
And, on Friday, the Celtics returned 7-foot center Fab Melo to the Red Claws. The only regular now missing is forward DaJuan Summers, out with a hamstring injury.
Maine had defeated Bakersfield last month in the D-League showcase in Reno, 131-124. This time, the Red Claws could not keep up.
Bakersfield likes to play an up-tempo game and the Jam quickly raced to a 25-8 lead.
The Red Claws rallied and briefly took the lead in the second quarter, before Bakersfield walked off at halftime with a 51-47 lead.
Bakersfield took off again to start the second half and led 81-63 after three quarters.
NOTES: Bakersfield is scheduled to continue its New England trip with a game at the Springfield Armor Saturday night.
The Armor will then bus to Portland for a 3 p.m. game Sunday against the Red Claws (Maine’s last home game this month).
To make room for Mack on the roster, point guard Hank Thorns was waived.
Bakersfield continues to lead the West Division, while Maine was in a tie for first in the East with Canton before Friday’s loss.