The Maine Red Claws had no business winning this game, not after trailing by 17 with eight minutes remaining, but there they were with the ball and 30 seconds on the clock and a deficit of only two points.

Terry Rozier, the Celtics rookie point guard playing in his seventh game for the Red Claws, surveyed the situation and pulled up for a contested 3-pointer at the top of the key. A crowd of 2,242 at the Portland Expo held its collective breath, ready to erupt in celebration when leather met twine.

Instead, the basketball struck back iron and caromed high in the air. The Red Claws were forced to foul, and the Delaware 87ers made six straight free throws in the final 15 seconds to win 118-112 Sunday afternoon.

“I take all the blame for that,” Rozier said. “I’ve got to be smarter. I should have gone to the hole, attacked, tried to get fouled, tried to tie the ball game up. Instead, I went for the home run.”

Rozier was being rather hard on himself after a game in which he fell one rebound shy of a triple double. He doled out 13 assists, grabbed nine rebounds and 12 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter. He was also instrumental in Maine’s late 16-2 run that turned an impending rout into a 105-102 contest with just under five minutes left.

“A loss is a loss,” said Red Claws Coach Scott Morrison. “But at the same time, the next time we’re down in the fourth, we can point to that quarter and say, ‘Hey, we’re not out of it yet.’ It was a good effort by the guys to get back into the game.”

The loss ended a season-high five-game winning streak for the Red Claws (11-7), who were playing for the third time in four days. They fly to California on Tuesday for the annual D-League Showcase in Santa Cruz, where they are scheduled to play Bakersfield on Thursday afternoon and Reno on Sunday evening in front of a gaggle of domestic and international scouts.

Both Maine and Delaware (12-9) had played Saturday night, the 87ers losing in Westchester while the Red Claws dispatched visiting Santa Cruz to move Morrison past Austin Ainge and Mike Taylor as the franchise leader for victories with 46 (against only 21 losses, compared to 55 for both Ainge and Taylor in their two-year stints).

On Sunday, the Red Claws picked up where they left off, jumping to a 12-point lead in the first quarter on a combination of 3-pointers (four), lay-ups (four) and a dunk. Not until Coty Clarke banked in a 10-footer to make it 24-11 did the Claws score from beyond two feet and inside 23.

“When they get hot it feels like the roof is caving in,” said Delaware Coach Kevin Young. “I don’t watch all their games, but I’d imagine their games have a lot of ebbs and flows with how many threes they shoot.”

The 87ers, meanwhile, boast an offense that includes two of the league’s top 10 scoring leaders in Sean Kilpatrick and Jordan McRae and on Sunday included 6-foot-11 Philadelphia 76ers rookie Christian Wood. Kilpatrick scored 34 points – the most by anyone Maine has faced this season – and McRae had 26 while Wood grabbed 17 rebounds and scored 16 points.

Delaware outscored Maine by 14 points in the second quarter and 11 in the third to take control.

“I thought we got open shots in the second and third, we just couldn’t knock them down like we have been in the last week or so,” Morrison said. “They switched in our screens and filled the paint up, so it was tough to get to the rim. Usually that means we can knock down some threes, but we didn’t really hit many until the fourth quarter.”

The game seemed all but over after Rozier missed a dunk attempt that resulted in a Delaware fast break and easy flush for Kilpatrick to make it 103-86 more than three minutes into the fourth quarter. But Levi Randolph hit two free throws, Omari Johnson (24 points) drained a 3-pointer and Malcolm Miller and Rozier followed suit. Rozier lofted an alley oop to Jordan Mickey (12 points, 12 rebounds) and Johnson hit another trey to send the crowd into a tizzy.

Delaware’s only field goal in the final four minutes was a dunk by Wood. The Claws forced turnovers on four straight Delaware possessions down the stretch but came no closer than two. In addition to Rozier’s miss, a 3-point attempt by Johnson that could have cut the margin to one rattled in and out.

“I’m not going to lie,” Johnson said. “Every time I shoot I think it’s going in, but that one for sure, it went down and came right back up.”