February 5, 2011

Dakota adds to Red Claws' road misery

Avery Bradley has 25 points, but weak defense and 25 turnovers spell doom again.

By LOU BABIAREZ Special to the Press Herald

BISMARCK, N.D. - Avery Bradley scored a season-high 25 points, but when push came to shove, the Maine Red Claws still couldn't put an end to their road woes Friday, dropping a 109-97 decision to the Dakota Wizards at the Bismarck Civic Center.


WHO: Red Claws at Dakota

WHEN: 8 p.m.

Push did come to shove as time ran out on the Red Claws (12-18), who dropped to 3-12 in road games. The Wizards began fouling in an attempt to get a triple-double for veteran guard Maurice Baker, who was one assist short. Baker didn't get it, finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists, but the Red Claws didn't like the effort.

"I wasn't happy with the way that they were running up the score and showing no class and no sportsmanship," Maine Coach Austin Ainge said, acknowledging the attempt at the triple-double. " That's no excuse. Really, it's our job to stop that on the court. We're pros. We're big boys. If they want to do that, that's their right."

Wizards Coach Rory White apologized for an alley-oop dunk at the end, but that was it.

"In this league, how often do you get a triple-double?" White said.

For the first 18 minutes, the marksmanship of Bradley was the only thing holding the Red Claws in the game -- and just barely.

The Wizards built a 41-29 lead midway through the second quarter, and Bradley accounted for 17 of Maine's points. At that point, Bradley was 7 of 8 from the floor, his teammates a combined 5 of 23.

"He's been playing very well," Ainge said. "He's getting there. He's making decisions, still a few too many turnovers, but he made some jump shots."

Mario West got the friendly roll around the rim on a 3-pointer that sparked a 9-0 run, with the next six points coming from DeShawn Smith, and suddenly the Red Claws were back in it, trailing 41-38.

Maine regained the lead briefly on a 3-pointer by Jamar Smith, but the Wizards held a 48-47 edge at halftime.

The Red Claws led by as many as six points (67-61) early in the second half. But the Wizards took control with a 16-2 run that spanned the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth. Darren Cooper did the most damage, scoring all seven of his points in that span.

Ainge expressed frustration with Maine's 25 turnovers and with the defensive effort in the third quarter, when the Red Claws surrendered 34 points.

"Really, our defense let us down," Ainge said. "They scored 34 points in that third quarter, and that's too many.

"It was high pick and rolls," he added. "We had trouble guarding it. They've got some good guards in Baker and (Javaris) Crittenton that are good at executing that play, and we've got to learn how to guard it."


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