Tim Frazier returned to the Red Claws on Saturday night after spending a second NBA stint with the Philadelphia 76ers.

If he harbored any disappointment about returning to the D-League, Frazier hid it well.

Maine’s point guard led everyone in scoring, rebounding and assists as the Claws rallied to beat the Grand Rapids Drive 111-103 before a crowd of 2,702 at the Portland Expo.

“Anytime you get a chance to step out on the court and play the game, no matter where it is, I love that,” Frazier said. “If I’m playing with the Sixers or playing with the Red Claws or anybody else, I go out and try to give my all.”

Frazier finished with 27 points, 16 assists (all but three in the first half) and nine rebounds. He also directed Maine’s decisive 22-2 run to close the third quarter and turn a 12-point deficit into an eight-point lead (89-81).

“He makes plays, he finds his teammates, gets our tempo up,” said Red Claws Coach Scott Morrison, “and two or three times in those close games he comes up with a big bucket that you don’t think is going to go in, but he finds a way to the hoop.”

Frazier had two such baskets in crunch time Saturday.

The first came on a sideline inbounds play with one second on the shot clock. Frazier set a pick for Omari Johnson, who popped free at the top of the key. Chris Babb faked a pass to Johnson – Maine’s most dangerous 3-point threat – and lofted an alley-oop to Frazier for a 101-93 lead.

Grand Rapids, coming off a 140-99 blowout of Delaware on Friday night in Michigan, scratched back to within two before Johnson grabbed an offensive rebound, was fouled and sank both free throws. After a defensive stop, the Red Claws found themselves with another inbounds play, this time from the baseline with five seconds left on the shot clock.

Frazier inbounded, the ball came loose, Johnson tossed up a prayer that glanced off the glass … and Frazier was there to tip it in a moment before a 24-second violation to effectively end the contest at 109-103 with 15 seconds left.

“He’s done that five or six times this year,” Morrison said. “That was a great effort play by him, a big, big shot.”

Frazier had plenty of help Saturday. Johnson came off the bench to score 25 points, including five of Maine’s 17 3-pointers. Babb added 16 points and solid defense. Rodney McGruder had 15 points and four rebounds, including a big one late. Ralph Sampson III had 11 points and held his own against the Drive’s 7-foot-3 Hasheem Thabeet.

The Claws trailed by as many as 13 late in the second quarter before a flurry cut it to 69-63 at intermission. A Thabeet alley-oop one-handed flush made it 79-67 about four minutes into the third, after which Maine held Grand Rapids scoreless for more than seven minutes.

“We locked in on defense,” Frazier said. “We gave up way too many points in the first half.”

NOTES: The Red Claws lost backup center Asauhn Dixon-Tatum for the rest of the season because of a broken bone in his hand sustained during Sunday’s 120-92 victory over Erie.

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or:

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