SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The Red Claws’ trip through the Badlands continued to bring them bad luck as Maine dropped its third straight game in the Dakotas, falling 107-98 to the Sioux Falls Skyforce on Tuesday night.

After losing twice to the Dakota Wizards over the weekend, including a 142-100 thrashing in their last game, the Skyforce, the worst team in the NBA Development League, seemed to offer some respite for Maine.

But Sioux Falls used a balanced attack and early rebounding edge to improve to 5-22. The Red Claws (12-20) have lost 13 of 17 since Jan. 1.

Trailing by as many as 14 midway through the fourth, Maine pulled within six with two minutes left at 101-95. But the Red Claws couldn’t get stops on the next two possessions, allowing Sioux Falls to secure the win.

Jamar Smith had 23 points to lead all scorers, but the Red Claws were beaten on the boards 49-37 and had trouble defending the lane. Dexter Pittman, on assignment from the Miami Heat, and Patrick Ewing, Jr., each had double doubles in the paint for Sioux Falls, with Pittman going for 16 and 12 and Ewing 14 and 11.

But Red Claws Coach Austin Ainge thought Sioux Falls point guard David Bailey was the difference. The veteran guard had 14 points and 12 assists with only two turnovers.

“In the first three quarters the rebounding definitely was (a problem),” Ainge said. “But it wasn’t as big an issue as David Bailey getting into the lane and making the right decisions. Our defense is struggling and we need to find a way to tighten it up.”

The struggles on defense could certainly be chalked up to the fact that the Red Claws are playing with only nine players, with Avery Bradley having been recalled by the Celtics. They did get 12 points in 24 minutes from Champ Oguchi, who was listed as questionable before the game. But they’re winding down a stretch in which they’ve logged a lot of miles on the road. Ainge admits that’s taking a toll.

“I think it’s mental fatigue,” he said. “We have to stay focused. We seem to lose our concentration at times in the game. Sometimes when your legs get tired, your mind gets tired. But we’re going to keep fighting. We have three games before the (NBA) All-Star break and then we can get some rest and get back East and try to figure this thing out.”

Sioux Falls led by five at the half, 58-53, thanks largely to a big edge on the boards and an ability to get to the line. The Skyforce held a 29-16 edge on the glass before half, and were 14 of 16 at the stripe compared to the Claws’ 5-of-8 effort.

They extended that lead to eight by the end of three, and quickly had it up to 14 early in the fourth.

Pittman said the Skyforce’s ability to dominate the paint helped them build the lead and maintain it late.

“We were just playing hard and trying to maintain the defense,” said Pittman. “We just try to go up there and rebound and give an inside presence.”

Smith had his 23 points on 9-for-16 shooting, including 3 for 3 from beyond the arc. Mario West added 16 as the Claws had six players in double figures.

“We have good players, we’re just not playing together,” Ainge said. “But we’re going to figure this thing out and find a way.”