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December 9, 2012

A Red Claws victory in the balance

By Kevin Thomas
kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - Seven players scored nine points or more.

The point guard recorded 10 assists.

It is not a coincidence.

Maine Red Claws point guard Shelvin Mack played one of his finer games in what he hopes is a short NBA D-League career, leading Maine to a 103-90 win Sunday over the Canton Charge.

Mack scored 18 points, including three of four 3-pointers, to go with his 10 assists and five rebounds.

An NBA backup last season, the 6-foot-2 Mack continues to demonstrate why the Red Claws drafted him in the first round (fourth overall) in the D-League draft. He kept Maine's offense humming against the Charge.

"He's our the floor general," said 6-7 forward Kris Joseph, who led all scorers with 21 points. "(Mack) does a great job of getting guys involved, especially guys he feels should be more aggressive. He gets the guys in good situations to score."

Joseph, one of two Boston Celtics on the Red Claws, has experienced the Portland-Boston I-95 shuttle often this season. Just this past week, he was recalled by the Celtics on Tuesday, and then sent back to Maine Friday.

"It's nice to go (to Boston) and hang out with the guys," Joseph said. "But I also like being here and playing and getting my reps in."

Maine's other Celtic, 7-foot center Fab Melo, missed his second straight game because of a strained quadriceps.

With the win, Maine's third straight, the Red Claws improved to 5-2 and continue to lead the D-League's East.

Sunday's performance was thorough as Maine never trailed after the first quarter and stretched its lead by as much as 25 over Canton (2-5).

"Really pleased with the effort," Red Claws Coach Mike Taylor said. "To get three wins in four days is fantastic. Right now the team is in a very good place."

On defense, Maine held Canton's three starting guards to 3-for-21 shooting. Mack and Xavier Silas applied much of the pressure in the back court.

"We're just playing hard," Silas said. "When I come in, I just pick up (on defense) full court and trying to disrupt their offense. We just had a good effort all around on defense."

Besides Joseph and Mack, Maine was led by newly-acquired forward DaJuan Summers (15 points), center Chris Ayer (14) and guards Micah Downs (13) and Silas (11). Chris Wright grabbed eight rebounds and scored nine points (while going 1 for 5 at the foul line).

"Six guys in double figures. Could have been seven if Chris Wright could make a free throw," Taylor said with a smile.

Canton was without 6-8 forward Kevin Jones, who was recalled by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Jones had been leading the team with a 23.6-point average.

The Cavs did send down 6-10 forward Jon Leuer, a second-year NBA player. Leuer notched a double-double with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

NOTES: Sunday's announced attendance was 2,003. The Red Claws will play on the road next weekend, Friday at Fort Wayne and Sunday at Erie. They return to Portland the following weekend, Dec. 21 vs. Fort Wayne, and Dec. 22 vs. Erie. Both home games are at 7 p.m.

Staff Writer Kevin Thomas can be contacted at 791-6411 or at:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH





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