Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By DUANE RANKIN Special to the Press Herald
ERIE, Pa. - Keep on keeping on.
WHO: Maine at Fort Wayne Mad Ants
WHEN: 5 p.m. Sunday
The Maine Red Claws say that's all they can do, even though loss after loss has made that more difficult to do.
Vying for the final spot in the NBA Development League playoffs, the Red Claws suffered their sixth consecutive defeat Thursday night, losing to the Erie BayHawks 118-105 at Tullio Arena.
"For the last week, we've been trying to start with a win and go on a little run and see if we can get that last spot in the playoffs," Maine guard Jamar Smith said. "That's still our mind-set."
The BayHawks (27-13) had five players score in double figures, with power forward Ivan Johnson leading the way with 27 points and nine rebounds.
"They made a lot of shots," Maine Coach Austin Ainge said. "It wasn't like it was a layup line out there. They were making tough shots and sometimes it happens."
DeShawn Sims and Kenny Hayes each scored 21 points for Maine (14-27), which is 1-6 against Erie this season.
The Red Claws and BayHawks will meet one more time in the regular-season finale April 2 at Erie.
"We're not winning right now, but I wouldn't change who I'm going out there fighting with," Maine guard Mario West said. "It's the hand we're dealt. We're going to play it out."
The Red Claws trimmed a 12-point, third-quarter deficit to 62-59 before fouls caught up with them.
With Maine down five, Sims was called for a foul while trying to keep up with Johnson in transition, and Johnson made the two free throws.
Then West picked up a foul while trying to guard Blake Ahearn as he was driving to the basket.
In reaction to the call, West said to one of the officials: "There is nothing else I can do."
Ahearn made both free throws to put Erie up seven.
"That's just the way the game goes sometimes," West said. "You're going to deal with adversity. You just have to deal with it and get over it."
The free throws were part of a 13-2 run that put the BayHawks up 75-61 with 6:44 left in the third. In that quarter, Erie attempted 17 free throws and made 16.
"Once they got in the penalty, they did what a smart team should do," Smith said. "They just quit shooting jumpers. They just started penetrating to the basket."
The BayHawks led by as many as 18 in the fourth. They finished 28 of 33 from the line.
"It was more of us trying to take away their shots and fouling on drives," Sims said. "We had a lot of fouls helping."
NOTE: Forward Stephane Lasme made his season debut with the Red Claws. Lasme, who fractured his foot during preseason, originally was not expected to return at all this season following surgery.