PORTLAND – A night after rallying to a win in overtime, the Maine Red Claws got smoked by the Dakota Wizards 93-70 on Friday night.

The problem was pure and simple: poor shooting.

Maine was off from the start, and by game’s end the Claws set franchise records for fewest points and fewest assists (six). Their previous lows were 71 points and 12 assists.

“I guess it’s hard to win when six different guys all play horribly,” said Maine Coach Austin Ainge. “Sometimes we make it more complicated than it is. You can withstand one or two guys being off, but not six.”

The loss snapped a six-game home winning streak for Maine (9-10) in front of another announced sellout at the Portland Expo.

“It’s a tough loss. You hate to have it happen at home but we have to write it off,” said guard Matt Janning, who finished with six points.

DeShawn Sims put up a game-high 19 points and guard Kenny Hayes scored 14, but just one other Maine player hit double digits: Mario West with 10.

As a team, Maine shot just 32.1 percent, was 15 of 27 from the foul line and 3 of 21 on 3-pointers.

Maine was missing point guard Jamar Smith, who can be a 3-point machine, to a calf injury. He was expected to rejoin the lineup but was a last-minute scratch.

“I think we just didn’t have any energy and got no stops on defense,” said Hayes.

“With the shooters we have we won’t shoot like that again. I think we just have to move past this.”

Dakota, meanwhile, shot 44.3 percent and hit 17 of 26 free throws.

The Claws turned the ball over seven times in the first quarter and trailed 23-21 after the period.

The deficit jumped to 12 points by the half as Maine continued to be haunted by fouls. The Wizards hit 13 of 18 free throws in the first half.

The gap widened in the second half as Maine never regained the lead.

“It wasn’t there,” said Ainge. “And for whatever reason it was so bad we couldn’t make free throws.”

Center Chris Johnson and Vernon Hamilton had 18 points each for the Wizards (5-14).

Ainge and his team will travel to Erie, Pa., for an afternoon game Sunday before heading to the D-League Showcase in South Padre Island, Texas, next week.

NOTES: James Cripe, a 7-foot center, joined the lineup and debuted in the second half. He’s a defensive center from the New Mexico Thunderbirds, and weighs 250 pounds. . . .

Maine released Lawrence Westbrook to make room for Cripe on the roster.

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

[email protected]


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