BISMARCK, N.D. – The Dakota Wizards are the lowest-scoring team in the D-League, but they sure didn’t look like it Saturday night.

The Wizards lit up the Maine Red Claws for a 142-100 victory at the Bismarck Civic Center.

Dakota was averaging just 94.1 points per game, but the 142-point output was the highest in the D-League this season.

“They just scored at will from the opening tip,” Maine Coach Austin Ainge said. “We tried zone, we tried man and we tried changing all different kinds of coverages and personnel. Nothing worked.

“They were better than us at every position. Everything went wrong. When you lose by that many, they outcoached us, outplayed us, outshot us, outhustled us. Everything was a disaster.”

The Red Claws (12-19) caught the Wizards, who have won four straight, at the wrong time. This weekend Chris Johnson returned to Dakota after a 10-day stint with the Portland Trail Blazers, and Dakota also added a former NBA player, Javaris Crittenton. Dakota’s career scoring leader, Maurice Baker, also rejoined the club recently.


The Red Claws in particular struggled with Dakota’s quickness inside. Mike Anderson scored a season-high 29 points, and Johnson had 25 points and 10 rebounds in 27 minutes.

“We do better with kind of bigger, slower guys,” Ainge said. “We matched up with Tulsa, for instance, and other teams that have some big guys.

“Teams that have fast, athletic and perimeter-skilled big guys like Mike Anderson and Chris Johnson have given us trouble all year.”

The Wizards never trailed, taking control late in the first quarter when they went on a 20-3 run.

Things got heated at the end of Dakota’s 109-97 win over Maine on Friday. The Red Claws took exception to the Wizards trying to get a triple-double for Baker. A dunk at the final buzzer didn’t help. Anderson said that helped fuel Dakota’s performance.

“Be careful what you wish for when you say people are running up the score,” Anderson said. “We kind of took that as a bull’s-eye on their back.”

Saturday’s loss was the third time the Red Claws have lost by more than 40 points this season. Ainge had no explanation for the blowouts, but hoped the team could regroup for Tuesday’s trip to Sioux Falls.

“It seems like the world is ending tonight, but tomorrow we’ll get back to work and see what we can do,” Ainge said.


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