All game long, Boston Celtics rookie point guard Demetrius Jackson had been driving to the basket, then kicking out to a teammate on the wing or in the corner for a 3-point attempt.

Twice he lofted alley-oop passes to Dallas Lauderdale for easy dunks.

Once in a while, Jackson would continue all the way to the glass for a layup, but usually he passed. In this manner, he accumulated 11 assists. All of them played a role in setting up his 12th, prettiest of them all.

Neither the Red Claws nor the visiting Westchester Knicks could pull away in the fourth quarter Sunday afternoon. The teams had been within a basket of each other for more than five minutes of the fourth quarter until Jackson dribbled his way into the paint, stopped quickly, pivoted and looked for an open teammate on the perimeter.

The Knicks looked, too, and didn’t see Abdel Nader cutting along the baseline. Jackson, his gaze still fixed on the perimeter, shoveled the ball to Nader beneath the hoop for an uncontested layup that gave Maine a four-point advantage.

The Claws never trailed again on their way to a 93-85 victory before a crowd of 2,717 at the Portland Expo.

“I think it messed up the morale of the other team,” Nader said. “Just because they gave up something so easy and quick, and gave us a nice little cushion. I think that really helped us win the game.”

Nader finished with 30 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals to lead the Claws to a two-game sweep of Westchester, which remained in town after losing 110-94 at the Expo on Thursday night. The victory raised Maine’s record to 26-17, guaranteed a winning season and stretched the Atlantic Division lead to 3-1/2 games over Delaware with seven to play.

Five days earlier, after a lengthy 2-4 trip, the Claws led Delaware by a single game. The 87ers, however, have lost three straight in Texas.

“So we’re back in the driver’s seat, so to speak, but by no means out of the woods,” Red Claws Coach Scott Morrison said. “I’m sure I could squeeze in another metaphor, but two in one sentence is pretty good.”

Jalen Jones added 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Claws. He also came up with a critical roll-on-the-floor steal with a minute left and the cushion still four. The Claws hit 9 of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter, with Nader and Marcus Georges-Hunt (16 points) each going 4 of 4 to close the door on a potential Knicks comeback.

Nader sat out Thursday’s game with what he described as a bruised medial collateral ligament in his right knee.

Having Nader back makes the Claws more versatile, Morrison said. “We’ve got to stay on him to keep moving the ball and not try to hit home runs by himself. I thought he did a pretty good job (Sunday) for the most part. If he’s a good ball mover, that makes us pretty tough.”

Westchester came out strong, jumping to a 15-point lead in the first quarter. Doron Lamb was 6 of 6 in the first and finished with 18 points. Kevin Capers led Westchester, which only played eight men, with 21.

A second-quarter run that included seven straight points from veteran center Asauhn Dixon-Tatum helped Maine back, and 3-pointers, from Cameron Ayers (two) and Nader gave the Claws a 49-48 lead shortly before intermission. The rest of the game was nip and tuck.

“We were pretty neck and neck all game,” Nader said. “We stayed together and got some key stops while the other team didn’t.”

NOTES: The Claws travel to Grand Rapids for a Wednesday matinee scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. before a four-game homestand. … There is talk that Guerschon Yabusele, the 16th pick in the June draft whose season in China ended recently, could join the Claws. Yabusele, who is French, sprained his ankle in a playoff game last week and went to Boston for a physical. “It’s a possibility,” Morrison said. “I know it’s been talked about throughout the season.” … In 43 games with Shanghai, Yabusele averaged 20.9 points, 9.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.1 blocks. … Maine’s magic number for a third straight division title is five.

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