They started poorly, lost their leading scorer to food poisoning in the first quarter and nearly frittered away a comfortable lead, but the Maine Red Claws managed to hang on for a 111-103 D-League basketball victory Sunday afternoon against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants.

A crowd of 2,342 at the Portland Expo saw the Claws (15-7) win their fifth in a row, a victory punctuated by a windmilling Jalen Jones dunk with 25 seconds left following his steal of an ill-advised Fort Wayne pass.

“That put the icing on the cake,” said Marcus Georges-Hunt, who led all scorers with 30 points. “The dunk closed it.”

The Mad Ants (13-7) fell behind by 19 early in the fourth quarter but sliced the margin to six with a little more than a minute remaining. With the shot clock winding down, Jones delivered a tough 7-foot floater amid contact in the lane to give Maine a 103-95 lead. Georges-Hunt added two free throws and Jones made Fort Wayne pay for its errant pass, delighting the matinee crowd.

Jones finished with 25 points and 10 rebounds, four of them off the offensive glass. Like Georges-Hunt, he was perfect from the foul line, making 10 to Georges-Hunt’s 11.

“We had a stretch where we had a lack of communication in transition,” Jones said of Fort Wayne’s late rally, marked by deadly outside shooting from Stephan Hicks (19 points), Jordan Loyd (21) and Trey McKinney-Jones (18). “We just had to get back focused and lock in and finish out the game. I think we did that.”


The afternoon began with Hicks knocking down consecutive uncontested 3-pointers, leading Red Claws Coach Scott Morrison to call a timeout with his team trailing 10-4 a little more than two minutes after the opening tap. When asked about his message, Morrison grinned.

“I don’t think you can put earmuffs on the article,” he said. “Basically, that we weren’t doing a very good job and we needed to pick it up. We gave them 10 free points at the start, put ourselves in a bad hole. I wanted to make sure it got corrected before it got worse.”

Abdel Nader, coming off a 32-point performance in Friday afternoon’s 123-104 victory at Long Island, played only six minutes in two first-quarter stints before coming out for good after reporting dizziness. The Claws sent him home at halftime.

“We had to throw the rotation out and try to figure it out as we went along, which usually happens at some point in time, but not usually in the first quarter,” said Morrison.

Maine held the Mad Ants to 17 points in each of the next two quarters. Celtics rookie Demetrius Jackson scored 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter, when the Claws needed him most.

“In the fourth quarter, we depended on him to hit tough shots,” Morrison said. “We shouldn’t have had to, because our defense should have been better, but since we put ourselves in that position, it was good that he was here to bail us out a few times.”

Arthur Edwards came off the bench to grab 11 rebounds. Dallas Lauderdale blocked three shots, and Coron Williams drained three 3-pointers.

“All the guys who played had good moments,” Morrison said. “But we can’t be satisfied with our defense in that fourth quarter. We’ve got to finish games better than that.”

The Red Claws return to action Tuesday night in Westchester, New York, followed by a three-game homestand that begins Thursday against Raptors 905.

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