PORTLAND – In this desperate game for the Maine Red Claws, Chris Wright watched the basketball bouncing up and away from the rim.
So Wright did what he does best — he soared.
The 6-foot-8 Wright leaped into the crowd underneath the basket, got his hands on the ball and slammed it through with 1.5 seconds left, to give the Red Claws a 90-88 win over the Erie BayHawks Friday night, before 2,905 at the Expo.
Maine (20-18) stopped its losing streak at five games, as the Red Claws try to catch teams in the NBA D-League East Division, including the BayHawks (20-16).
Wright led Maine with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Point guard Shelvin Mack added 18 points and eight assists. Center Fab Melo, sent down Friday by the Celtics, recorded 15 points and 13 rebounds. Forward Micah Downs scored 13.
Forward Henry Sims scored 21 for Erie.
The Red Claws led at halftime 46-45, but scored only two field baskets in the first nine minutes of the third quarter, and trailed 64-50.
Maine Coach Mike Taylor called two timeouts during the stretch, trying to ignite his team.
“For us to come out and have some sloppy plays, turnovers, and lackadaisical play, this was the time to send a message to the guys of how important the game was,” Taylor said. “Fortunately, the message got through.
The Red Claws began executing — and getting back on defense to end the abundant string of Erie fast breaks.
“We had to get refocused,” Wright said. “We weren’t playing defensively and the offense was not executing. We had to check ourselves or they were going to run away with it.”
Maine scored the last 10 points of the quarter and trailed 69-66.
Mack, who played 43 minutes, made several key plays, including the final basket of the third quarter. He dribbled near the arc, faking both ways, before finally pulling up for a 3-pointer.
The game went back and forth in the fourth quarter. Erie led 87-86. Maine called a timeout with 23 seconds left and five on the shot clock. Wright got the ball to DaJuan Summers and passed it right back to Wright. He finished the give-and-go with a thunderous dunk, for an 88-87 lead.
Erie’s D.J. Kennedy sank one of two free throws to tie it with 12 seconds left.
Mack came down the court, drove, missed his shot. But Wright was there.
“No one boxed me out,” Wright said. “It could have been anyone in that situation.”
NOTES: Newly acquired guard Mark Tyndale came off the bench and played some impressive defense for 25 minutes. … The D-League is used to roster changes, so when Blues Traveler lead singer John Popper called in sick, Chris Barron of the Spin Doctors appeared and sang the National Anthem The two teams meet again at 1 p.m. Sunday.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: