It was the first game in the Maine Red Claws’ fifth season, and it looked like a case of opening-night jitters.
Missed shots, defensive lapses, and suddenly the Red Claws trailed 13-2 after five minutes in their game against the Springfield Armor Friday night.
But it was only five minutes. The Red Claws regrouped and routed Springfield 108-95 before 2,647 at the Portland Expo.
For all the talk of the Red Claws’ five rookies, it was the veterans leading the way, with forward Chris Wright scoring 27 points and guard Jermaine Taylor adding 22.
“The guys we need to deliver, they delivered,” Red Claws Coach Mike Taylor said.
As for that slow start?
“There was a little bit of anxiousness and uncertainty that we needed to overcome and I thought we did,” Taylor said.
For Taylor, Friday was a coach’s dream with every player contributing.
Of note was backup point guard Marcel Anderson, a fourth-year pro making his D-League debut. Anderson came off the bench and put in a quality 281/2 minutes, recording 13 points and seven assists.
Also, 7-foot Ty Walker helped contain the Armor’s scoring inside. He subbed in and blocked eight shots.
“We have talented players but we don’t have the biggest team,” Taylor said, “so it was important for Ty to come in and battle.”
Rookie Frank Gaines also came off the bench to score 12 points, including three 3-pointers. Rookie forward Romero Osby scored 10.
The Red Claws shot 49 percent, driving to the basket, flying for fast-break layups and hitting 3s – 10 of 26 3-pointers.
“You shoot 40 percent from the 3, that’s like 70 percent (overall),” Armor Coach Doug Overton said. “The effort was there. We beat them in the rebounding game (49-47) but they made shots.
“And we couldn’t make enough.”
The Armor shot 41 percent, but only 4 of 21 3-pointers.
Springfield’s troubles against Maine continued, especially in Portland. The Armor posted a 1-8 record against the Red Claws last year, and Friday’s encounter was the first of nine games this season between the New England rivals.
The Armor’s overall record in Portland is 3-18, but that looked to change early on.
“We started out good and kept them out of the paint,” Overton said. “Then they started attacking us and our defense broke down.”
Indeed, both Taylor and Wright crashed to the hoop.
“I just take what the defense gives me and the paint was wide open,” Taylor said. “When I see the paint open, I’m going every time.”
And he showed no panic over the slow start.
“New team. We’re going to pull it together,” he said.
Springfield led 31-26 after the first quarter. With 9:08 left in the half, Maine guard Chris Babb drained one of his three 3-pointers for a 36-35 lead, and the Red Claws pulled away from there.
NOTES: The Red Claws are home again Sunday at 1 p.m. against the Erie BayHawks … Guard Kammron Taylor is officially on the inactive list with Achilles tendinitis. Taylor, a seven-year pro, was in the Boston Celtics preseason camp this year … New Armor coach Doug Overton played 11 seasons in the NBA, including 55 games with the Celtics from 1999 to 2001.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: