January 22, 2012

Claws bounce back, beat up on BayHawks

Morris Almond scores 27 points as Maine avenges Friday night's loss by beating Erie, 110-88.

By MARK JEANNERET Special to the Press Herald

PORTLAND - Morris Almond scored 27 points to lead the Maine Red Claws to a 110-88 victory over the Erie BayHawks in an NBA D-League game Sunday in front of a crowd of 2,802 at the Portland Expo.

click image to enlarge

Courtney Pigram of the Maine Red Claws drives past Erie’s D.J. Kennedy in Sunday’s game at the Portland Expo. The Claws won 110-88 after losing to Erie by nine points Friday night.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Morris Almond takes a shot over Erie’s Devin Green in Sunday’s game at the Portland Expo. Almond had 27 points in Maine’s 110-88 win.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer


FRIDAY: Idaho Stampede at Red Claws, 8 p.m.

SUNDAY: Reno Bighorns at Red Claws, 5 p.m.

The win was an excellent bounce-back performance for the Red Claws, who lost 122-113 to the BayHawks at the Expo on Friday.

"We always talk about the thing in this league," said Maine Coach Dave Leitao. "You play so many back-to-back games and play teams three times in a row that you have to make adjustments. Fortunately we did that today."

A defensively strong and offensively balanced third quarter for Maine (8-16) turned out to be the difference. Holding a 49-42 lead at the break, the Red Claws started the second half with a 12-0 run that left Erie (10-13) in the dust.

The outburst, which featured at least one point from all five players on the floor, covered four minutes and gave the Claws a 63-46 lead.

"Balance is important," said Anthony Kent, who recorded a double-double for the Red Claws with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

"We have a lot of guys that can play and have played at a high level before. If we keep moving the ball like we did today everyone will score and it will make things run smoother."

In the end, Maine outscored the BayHawks 31-19 in the third, in which seven of the eight players scored. The Claws led 80-61 after three.

The BayHawks couldn't get anything going offensively in the quarter. A combination of a tightened Red Claws defense and an inability to make shots (Erie was 29.2 percent from the floor in the quarter) led to the difference.

"We did pay better attention to detail, more concentration on defense and more energy," said Kent.

"It's just about playing the right way. If you continue to play the right way good things will happen. Rotating around on defense, inside and out, swinging the ball and not letting the ball stick."

The fact that Jeremy Lin and Jerome Jordan didn't impact the game also played into Maine's favor. The duo, who were assigned to Erie by the New York Knicks earlier in the week, combined for 54 points and 19 rebounds in their debut on Friday.

Lin didn't play Sunday because of an injury, and Jordan was in foul trouble early and finished with 10 points.

The Red Claws held the lead for the majority of the first half, building a seven-point advantage on five occasions. The first was in the closing moments of the first quarter, when the Claws used a 9-2 run to create some distance.

Erie rallied with an 8-0 run to grab a 26-25 lead, but Justin Brownlee sank his lone basket of the half with 14 seconds remaining in the quarter to put the Red Claws ahead 27-26.

Almond started a 10-4 run to open the second quarter with four of his 15 first-half points, putting the Red Claws back up by seven, 37-30. The two sides traded baskets for the remainder of the quarter, leaving Maine with a 49-42 halftime lead.

Almond continued his solid play since joining the Red Claws last week. The veteran forward and two-time NBA D-League scoring leader has averaged 22.3 points in his three games with Maine.

Kyle Goldcamp paced the BayHawks with 23 points off the bench, and Kyle Spain had 20 points and 11 rebounds.


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