January 5, 2013

Claws left grasping for an answer

A foul in the last second of the game gives Canton two free throws – and a 92-91 victory at the Expo.

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - Micah Downs raised his hand to block the shot.

Seconds later, both of Downs' hands held his head, a gesture of disbelief.

Downs was whistled for the foul with one second remaining. Kyle Gibson sank 1 of 2 free throws to give the Canton Charge a 92-91 win over the Maine Red Claws on Saturday night before 2,826 at the Portland Expo.

Gibson was driving when he stopped and faked before going up for a jump shot. Downs deflected the shot. The referee's whistle followed and Gibson went to the line.

"It was a (terrible) call," Downs said. "Straight up. Blocked the shot. You can't make that call."

The Red Claws (10-7) slipped out of first place in the D-League East Division, as Erie (9-5) beat Springfield on Saturday night.

Canton, which had lost two previous games to Maine, improved to 10-8.

The foul against Gibson was Downs' second on him in the closing minute. The other was just as controversial. With Maine leading 86-85 with 49 seconds left, the Charge were inbounding the ball -- but with only one second left on the shot clock.

The ball went to Gibson. He turned and shot with Downs in his face. The shot was well short, but a late whistle followed. Gibson got three free throws and made them all.

"How can he catch the ball, turn and get a shot off with one second left?" Downs said.

The Red Claws came back and Kris Joseph's driving layup tied the game at 91-91 with 10 seconds left.

Then came Gibson's attempted jumper and another foul.

"It's really frustrating when the game ends like that, for both teams," Maine Coach Mike Taylor said. "There were a lot of calls difficult to understand. It was the same for both teams.

"It's a situation where you have to play through it. We have to take ownership of our performance and not put the game into an official's decision."

DaJuan Summers led Maine with 23 points and 12 rebounds. Downs scored 21. Champ Oguchi scored 15. Joseph, who had been slowed by a sore ankle, played most of the second half, ending up with 14 points. Xavier Silas added six points and seven assists.

Canton had three players with 20 points apiece -- Gibson, point guard Jorge Gutierrez and Cleveland Cavaliers forward Jon Leuer, on loan to the Charge.

Canton led most of the game, with Maine making occasional runs to briefly take the lead back.

"We're not as efficient as we need to be on the offensive end," Taylor said. "Our ball movement comes and goes in spurts and, with it, our shot selection."

NOTES: Maine remains without forward Chris Wright and center Fab Melo, each because of a concussion. No timetable has been given for their return. The Red Claws are off today and leave Monday for the D-League showcase in Reno, Nev. Staged in front of scouts from every NBA team, Maine will play games on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Red Claws play in Portland next Saturday against Springfield. Canton was without forward  Arinze Onuaku, the league's leading rebounder, because of a knee contusion. Canton did have former Celtics player JaJuan Johnson, who was the D-League's No. 1 draft pick in October by the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Fort Wayne traded Johnson to Canton last week. He scored eight points Saturday.

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

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH

 

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