Boston Celtics guard MarShon Brooks has only been with the Maine Red Claws for three games, but he knows the team’s key players.
Two of them were not on the court Sunday afternoon during Maine’s 100-93 loss to the Tulsa 66ers before 2,371 at the Portland Expo.
Chris Babb sat out a second straight game because of a sore shoulder. Frank Gaines was in street clothes, limping because of a strained hamstring.
“Missing someone like Babb, he does all the little things,” Brooks said. “And missing Frank, he’s a scorer.
“I knew I had to come out aggressive.”
Brooks scored 36 points, but the Red Claws lacked enough firepower to keep up with Tulsa, a team that is only 4-13.
Maine dropped below .500 at 7-8. The Red Claws finished their recent home stand at 2-2, which included a 105-96 win over Tulsa on Thursday night.
In that victory, Brooks scored 27, but Gaines complemented that with 24 points and Babb added 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Babb, a 6-foot-5 rookie guard, is the team’s third-best rebounder and his presence was missed.
The 66ers outrebounded Maine 49-37.
“We fought hard,” Brooks said, “but they made a lot of shots. That was the difference in the game.”
It seems whenever the Red Claws had Tulsa in trouble, the visitors came up with a key basket – including 10 3-pointers (to Maine’s seven). Guard Reggie Williams paced the 66ers with 30 points (4 of 8 3-pointers).
Besides Brooks, Maine was led by Romero Osby (23 points), Chris Wright (12 points), Ty Walker (10 rebounds) and point guard Marcel Anderson (seven assists).
Brooks hit a jumper for a 19-14 lead with 2:10 left in the first quarter. But Tulsa scored the last eight points of the quarter and never trailed again.
The 66ers lengthened the lead to 56-46 at halftime and 80-67 after three quarters. Maine never got closer than five points.
Down 90-83 with 1:43 left, the Red Claws had the ball but made a bad pass, one of 17 turnovers. Tulsa then got the ball to Mario Little for a 3-pointer and a 93-83 lead with 1:19 remaining.
Maine was forced to foul, and the 66ers made their free throws.
Brooks’ time with the Red Claws may be over after three games. He said he was headed back to Boston on Sunday night and will await a call from the Celtics, who are on the verge of trading guard Courtney Lee to the Memphis Grizzlies for Jerryd Bayless, according to various media reports.
Both the Celtics and Red Claws are on the road this week, mostly on the west coast.
The Red Claws fly out Monday for the annual NBA D-League Showcase in Reno, Nev. Maine will play Tuesday vs. Austin and Wednesday vs. Rio Grande Valley, then go to California for three games before returning to the Expo on Jan. 18.
Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or: