Tyshawn Taylor began the year as a teammate of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. This was to be his second season in the NBA, a backup point guard for the Brooklyn Nets.

Then the Nets traded Taylor to the New Orleans Pelicans on Jan. 18. The Pelican released him four days later.

Next thing Taylor knew, he was trying to crack the lineup of the Maine Red Claws.

Taylor made his first start for Maine on Sunday and had the Red Claws offense purring. Taylor almost got a triple-double, with 33 points, 15 assists and eight rebounds as Maine routed the Fort Wayne Mad Ants 131-106 at the Portland Expo.

The Red Claws improved to 17-23. Fort Wayne, which entered the game with the second best record in the NBA D-League, dropped to 24-15.

Maine played without starting point guard Abdul Gaddy, who strained a quadriceps muscle in his last game. Gaddy rode the exercise bike before the game, trying to get ready, but was ruled a no-go. He remains day to day.

With Gaddy out, the call went to Taylor.

“I’m coming along a little,” said Taylor, who is adjusting to his new team.

Maine lost the ball just 21 times after having 27 turnovers in a Thursday loss to Fort Wayne. The team recorded 31 assists and the passes were crisp and effective.

“We took better care of the ball,” Taylor said. “Our transition defense was a lot better and, offensively, we made a lot of nice plays.”

Maine jumped to a 37-23 first-quarter and was never threatened.

Forward Chris Wright again entertained the Expo crowd with some thunderous dunks – including one putback over two defenders. He ended with 21 points, 14 rebounds and six assists.

Daniel Orton and Sherwood Brown also had double-doubles. Orton scored 16 with 10 rebounds. Brown scored 13 and grabbed 11 boards. Frank Gaines scored 22.

“Complete team win,” Maine Coach Mike Taylor said. “We’ve seen some good teamwork throughout the year. This has to be among the top.

“Tyshawn led our team fantastically. It can be difficult for guys coming down to the D-League. He was focused today and he attacked.”

Tyshawn Taylor, 23, had played in the D-League before, but it was always on assignment from the Nets.

“I had the safety net of knowing I had a team (in the NBA) to go back to,” Tyshawn Taylor said.

Obviously the goal is to get back to the NBA.

“I knew that Brooklyn was not a good place for me. The Pelicans didn’t need me because they have a lot of guards,” he said. “It’s just part of the business. A lot of (getting to) the NBA is being in the right situation.”

NOTES: The announced paid attendance was 2,502 … The Red Claws leave this week for Texas for games against Rio Grande Valley (Wednesday) and the Texas Legends (Friday). The Legends feature former Celtics and Maine center Fab Melo. He’s averaging five points, but scored 22 on Saturday night … The Red Claws return to the Portland Expo Sunday for a 1 p.m. game against Delaware.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or at:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH