March 29, 2013

Claws cling to hope

A victory over Erie lets Portland keep pace with Fort Wayne in the race for the final playoff berth.

By Kevin Thomas kthomas@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND - With a minute to go in the first half, 6-foot-1 Maine Red Claws guard Curtis Jerrells got position on 6-10 Kyle Goldcamp. Jerrells timed his jump and beat Goldcamp for the rebound.

click image to enlarge

Portland’s Chris Wright looks to pass against Erie’s Keith Benson during Thursday’s victory at a sold-out Expo, won by the Red Claws, 109-102.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

WHAT’S LEFT

WHO: Maine Red Claws at Erie Bayhawks

WHEN: 7 p.m. April 5-6

WHERE: Erie (Pa.) Insurance Arena

RADIO: WJAB (96.3 FM)

Jerrells hurried up the floor but did not reach half court before heaving the ball into space.

Chris Wright filled that space, launching above the basket, grabbing the ball and slamming it down to the delight of a sold-out Portland Expo crowd of 3,045.

These Red Claws sure play entertaining basketball.

Now comes the question: Will Maine play any more games at the Expo this season?

The Red Claws concluded their home schedule Thursday night with an exhilarating 109-102 comeback win over the Erie BayHawks.

The win keeps Maine (25-23) alive in the NBA D-League playoff picture. A postseason berth will mean at least one more home game for the Red Claws.

Maine jumped ahead of Erie (23-23) in the playoff race, as the Red Claws try to keep pace with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (24-22) for the final berth.

The Red Claws were again led by guard Jermaine Taylor (30 points) who has averaged 30 a game since joining Maine six games ago.

"Incredible teammates. They do a good job finding me," Taylor said.

Wright scored 29 and Jerrells added 18, including three straight 3-pointers in the fourth quarter. Maine trailed most of the game until Jerrells got hot and gave the Red Claws a 97-94 lead.

"I was able to make a couple of shots," Jerrells said. "Jermaine was hot pretty much all night. We were able to use him as a decoy. He got the attention.

"Then we just defended well. Got some stops."

Maine led 99-98 when Erie's Goldcamp drove in for a basket. But the referee negated the score, calling Goldcamp for a charging foul against Jerrells.

Wright scored on a drive (101-98). Erie scored, but the Red Claws bolted on a fast break with Taylor scoring from a Micah Downs pass (103-100) with 40 seconds left.

Erie missed. Taylor rebounded. With Erie Coach Gene Cross calling for his team to foul, Maine hurried. Downs got the ball to Omar Reed for the lay-up (105-100) with 24 seconds left.

Maine clinched it with free throws.

"Hard-fought game," said Maine Coach Mike Taylor, whose last two games will be in Erie next weekend. "You know the next two games will be exactly the same. The guys are expecting a street fight out there."

The coach praised his leading scorers but saved some applause for the role players, like Mark Tyndale (9 points, 7 rebounds), Downs (9 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists), Reed (8 points, 5 rebounds) and Josh Selby (5 rebounds, 3 assists).

NOTES: Before the game, Wright and Downs were honored as the Red Claws' Co-Players of the Year. Wright averaged 17.4 points and 9.1 rebounds a game. Downs led the team in points (762), averaging 16.6 Boston Celtics Coach Doc Rivers, father of Red Claws guard Jeremiah Rivers, was in attendance While Maine is off this weekend, Fort Wayne plays two home games, against Reno and Texas. Erie host two games against Springfield.

Kevin Thomas can be reached at 791-6411 or:

kthomas@pressherald.com

Twitter: KevinThomasPPH

 

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